MIDSTATE, Pa. (WHTM) — A Midstate native is getting ready for the journey of a lifetime. During the last week of April, he will head to the International Space Station for the next six months.

Lynne Hines Swider drove down to Orlando, Florida to witness her oldest son’s milestone in person. She said her son told her he is ready to tackle this new step.

“I’m just so happy that he has worked so hard towards this,” Swider said.

Get the latest local news, weather, and community events. Sign up for the WTAJ Newsletter.

Swider’s son Lt. Col. Bob Hines is used to taking off.

“He loved flying so much,” she said.

Hines’ father was in the army, so the family moved around a lot, but Hines spent a lot of time in the Midstate, including visits to his grandparents.

“His grandparents got him into flying lessons because he wanted to so badly,” Swider said.

Those visits, particularly the rides at Hershey Park, convinced Swider her son also had a future in engineering.

“Instead of looking at what he was going to get on, he was looking underneath to see how it worked, and he was only about three or four,” she said.

That curiosity led to two aerospace engineering degrees.

“I actually looked at one of his books that he was studying when he was in college, and it was like Greek,” Swider said.

Hines’ love of flying also shaped a 21-year-career as an Air Force pilot, flying missions for NATO and deploying to the Middle East.

“He wanted to go fast and he wanted to go high,” Swider said.

The 57-year-old pilot is now taking high to a new level, launching into space as an astronaut with NASA.

“It’s really exciting for me,” Swider said.

Hines started training in 2017. In early 2021, he was chosen as part of the crew for a six-month stay on the International Space station.

Swider said she has always told her children to enjoy their life.

“I think that’s what Bobby’s doing,” she said.

Swider said she is nervous about her son’s safety, and she knows how difficult it is for him to leave his wife and three daughters.

“His little one, she is very attached to him,” Swider said.

Right now, however, is a moment for celebration.

“I’m very proud of him and I’m just going to sit back and enjoy it with him,” Swider said.

And while this is Hines’ first trip into space, it might not be his last.

“He would like to, I think, go to the moon,” Swider said.

Hines’ launch has been delayed a few times, but Swider said she expects him to launch on April 26 or 27.