Features, Science

Rocket Man: BU alum, NASA astronaut prepares for first lift off

Boston University alum Bob Hines always loved flying but he never imagined that one day he would be jetting off to space. But come April 19, Hines will join fellow astronauts on the SpaceX Crew-4 Mission as they begin their journey to the International Space Station.

The SpaceX Crew-4 astronauts. Boston University alum Bob Hines (left) will be joining the crew as they head to the International Space Station April 19 from the Kennedy Space Center, Fla. COURTESY OF NASA JOHNSON

“It’s the accomplishment of lifelong dreams so, just getting on the launchpad and riding into space is pretty spectacular,” Hines said. “I’m really looking forward to just absorbing all the different sensations that are associated with the vibration of launching and the abruptness of zero g when the engine shuts off and then the view out the window.”

Joining Hines on his voyage is Spacecraft Commander Kjell Lindgren, Mission Specialist Jessica Watkins and Mission Specialist Samantha Cristoforetti on a Falcon 9 rocket with the Crew Dragon capsule from the Kennedy Space Center in Florida.

“It is such a privilege to get to be a part of this team and we’re really excited about launching and getting to the space station to conduct our mission,” Lindgren said in a press conference Thursday.

Hines’ journey to becoming an astronaut started in 1997 when he graduated from BU’s College of Engineering, where he studied aerospace engineering.

“The professors that led me through, were just amazing,” Hines said. “I really loved my experience … [BU] holds a dear place in my heart.”

Hines never intended to become an astronaut. Instead, he set out to become a pilot and started his career in the Air Force. As time went by, Hines realized his career followed a similar path to astronauts before him.

“I have always been amazed by spaceflight,” he said. “As a kid I didn’t really think I could be an astronaut. I always wanted to be a pilot and I knew that some pilots became astronauts.”

According to Hines, one of the main goals for this mission is to continue the science-based work on the ISS.

“One of the experiments we’re doing is working on growing artificial retinas to address macular degeneration in people,” Hines said. “The other thing that we are, spaceflight has been for a long time, is an example to the world of international people from different backgrounds and different cultures working together to achieve a common goal.”

Hines made sure to point out that even though the astronauts are the face of the NASA and SpaceX program, there are thousands of people behind the scene who make missions like this possible.

“We’re really appreciative of the dedication that all of those folks put forth and they’re certainly part of our team and we’re taking all of them to orbit with us,” Hines said.

When it comes to life advice, the Terrier astronaut suggested pursuing something you love.

“It’s really important that you choose something that you’re passionate about, and that you go after that. If you pursue a career that you’re passionate about, then you will naturally want to be good at it, you will naturally engage with it and you’ll enjoy it,” Hines said.

After the six month mission in space, Hines hopes to share his experience with everyone, including the BU community.

“I hope to be able to get up to BU not too long after my flight and share my experience with you guys up there,” Hines said. “I’ll certainly be bringing a part of my BU experience with me to the space station.”


  1. Proud to have received my MSBA FROM MET COLLEGE OF BU in1979 and being Bob’s father.

  2. I never thought about experiencing the many sensations that you get from a rocket launch let alone the weightlessness after the engine shut off. That sounds really neat. So this article and Bob’s comments brought these to my attention.
    Enjoyed the aricle and interview with Bob.