Get the latest updates as we post them — right on your browser

. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Mir Visitor Prepares

CAPE CANAVERAL, Florida () -- The next U.S. inhabitant of the Russian space station Mir can't wait to get started on his 4 1/2 month expedition.

"Should be a great mission,'' Dr. Jerry Linenger said upon arriving at Kennedy Space Center late Wednesday. "I am really, really excited to go up there.''

Space shuttle Atlantis is due to lift off early Sunday with Linenger and five other astronauts. The countdown was to begin Thursday.

Linenger will replace NASA astronaut John Blaha, who's been conducting experiments aboard Mir since September.

Linenger, a physician who turns 42 next week, will be the fourth U.S. astronaut, and the youngest astronaut, to live on Mir.

It will be the fifth time Atlantis docks with Mir. Four additional shuttle-Mir linkups are planned over the next 1 1/2 years.