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Illinois' astronaut Mike Hopkins returns to Earth

166 days after leaving Earth, University of Illinois graduate Mike Hopkins has safely returned from his stint on the International Space Station.

Hopkins lifted off on September 25 as part of Expedition 37, the first of the 2009 astronaut class to journey to space.

Hopkins graduated from the University of Illinois in 1991 with a degree in aerospace engineering before earning his masters from Stanford University. Hopkins was also captain of the Fighting Illini football team.

Welcome back to Earth, Mike Hopkins!

Hopkins is a prolific user of Twitter, frequently sharing some photos that are (terribly sorry for this bad pun) out of this world. Here are some of our favorites: