Since graduating from St. John's University in 1989, Mark T. Vande Hei has really gone up in the world.
And soon he'll be out of it, with the Collegeville grad soon to head out on his first spaceflight.
On Sept. 12, the Falls Church, Virginia native will blast off from Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan, along with his NASA colleague Joe Acaba and Russian Alexander Misurkin, as they journey to the International Space Station.
The former Johnnie earned a Bachelor of Science in physics from St. John's, before going on to get a Master's of Science in applied physics from Stanford University.
While he spends most of his time in Houston, Vande Tei's parents live in Chanhassen, Minnesota.
He was selected by NASA in 2009 and at the ISS will assist with experiments relating to biology, biotechnology, physical science and earth science.
He will spend about five months miles above the Earth's surface, returning to solid ground in February next year.
After landing in Kazakhstan last week, the astronaut has been tweeting about his preparations.