U.S. astronaut Scott Kelly says he's looking forward to traveling to the International Space Station this week, and meeting up with his brother there next year.
Kelly is scheduled to leave for the space station Friday aboard the Russian Soyuz rocket.
His brother Mark plans join him in February with a U.S. space shuttle crew.
"As kids, we never thought we'd be in this unique and privileged position to be able to do this," Scott Kelly told a news conference in Kazakhstan.
He and Russia's Alexander Kaleri and Oleg Skripochka will blast off from the Russia-leased Baikonur cosmodrome for a five-month mission.
Kaleri says his crew will get the station ready for the "post-shuttle era" since NASA is wrapping up 30 years of shuttle flight.