When NASA astronaut Tom Marshburn blasted off to the International Space Station for the second time in his career, his hometown, Statesville, felt pride once again.
Mayor Costi Kutteh remembers Marshburn as a young boy, and spoke with him by phone just last week.
Marshburn moved to Georgia when he was 9, but never forgot Statesville, and came back to visit after his first trip to space in 2009. For this voyage, Kutteh says Marshburn took the city's emblem with him.
"It's heartwarming to me as as Statesvillian and as mayor to know that there's a kinship and feeling for the community," Kutteh said.
Before this morning's launch from Kazakhstan, Marshburn and the other two members of his crew talked about their upcoming five-month mission involving medical experiments.
"We're honored and privileged to be a part of, potentially, discoveries that will affect the medical field," Marshburn said.
He also graduated from Davidson College, and he's featured in the lobby of the physics building.
Professor Larry Cain cherishes the shirt his former student wore while weightless in space. This time around, he said Marshburn took with him a family photo of Cain.
"I felt very honored by the chance to know that I had an impact on him," Cain said.