Alabama alum back on earth after 6 months in space

Published: Nov. 17, 2023 at 2:57 PM CST
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TUSCALOOSA, Ala. (WBRC) - A homecoming for an astronaut and University of Alabama (UA) graduate before his return to space.

Colonel Bob Hines is also a military veteran who has spent nearly 200 days in space. It is a given Hines will return to space, but for today, he was squarely secure on Earth, inside Comer Hall at UA.

“It is pretty surreal. We do so much training and the space station felt very familiar,” said Hines.

Bob Hines spent 170 days in space, overseeing the arrival of other crews and cargo, and returned home in mid-October 2022.

Hines talked about his life, career, and being part of the universe, a really small part, that is. Hines’ audience were mostly engineering students at UA.

“So when we entered the space station, we entered in such a way that we never entered the mock-ups on Earth, and it was so disorienting. You’re basically doing a handstand,” Hines said.

This man is accomplished - 4,000 hours of flight time on 50 aircrafts, a test pilot, 21 years in the military, and served as the pilot on NASA’s Space X crew, six months on board of the international space station, and while there Hines’ view of Earth just reinforced so many things for him.

“Looking down on the planet and seeing no borders and seeing how we’re all connected, not only with humanity, but environmental standpoint,” said Hines.

Standing in the wings and watching Hines’ time with reporters was Ethan Rodriguez. Rodriguez says Hines is the second astronaut he’s met, nothing short of a wow factor, he says.

“It’s always a rush meeting. Astronauts are my heroes, and seeing one that close is amazing.”

Hines has gone where very few have gone before. A return trip to the frontier is in the works.

Hines is 48-years old-and says his next trip back to space will likely in about two years or so.

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