Statesville-born astronaut back on Earth

STATESVILLE, NC (WBTV) - Statesville born Astronaut Dr. Thomas Marshburn touched down last night thousands of miles from home in Kazakhstan.

His 35th Expedition team landed safely after 146 days docked at the International Space Station.

Statesville's Mayor Costi Kutteh says, "I can't think of a finer person I've met in my life."

The Mayor talked on Tuesday afternoon about Marshburn saying, while he left the city at the age of 9, he still refers to Statesville as his hometown.

Mayor Kutteh also says Marshburn has become a close friend after making a visit to Statesville in 2009.

In fact, Kutteh says Marshburn even called him from space.

"We were at a play on a Sunday afternoon and I got a phone call and didn't recognize the number. So at an intermission I checked the voicemail and he had called from the space station," Kutteh said with a laugh.

He says he stopped screening his calls after missing the phone call from outer space.

"The next night he called back and we talked for about 30 minutes."

Now that Marshburn is back on earth, the Mayor hopes he'll make a visit back to his birthplace, where he'll surely get a warm hometown welcome.

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