Canadian, Russian, American astronauts gear up for trip to International Space Station

HOUSTON – A truly international crew is headed to the International Space Station in December. The crew will include a Canadian, a Russian and an American astronaut.

"It's actually very easy to forget that we're from three different countries,” said NASA astronaut Anne McClain. This will be her first space flight.  

She told KPRC 2, "It runs the gamut of emotions. Everything from like, 'I can't believe we're actually here,' to, 'This is crazy!' Who gets on a 30-story rocket and just blasts off to space?"

They will launch aboard what is expected to be one of the last Russian rockets to carry American astronauts. They are expected to be in space for an unscrewed test flight of the Boeing Starliner.

Boeing and SpaceX are expected to provide the space taxis that will once again allow U.S. astronauts to launch to space on a U.S. spaceship from U.S. soil.

"For us to be able to be on space station when some of those first test flights arrive, it is really. It is getting to be present for something that is in history books for years to come.  It's pretty incredible," McClain said.

During their six months in space, McClain and her crew will work on about 250 different experiments that are impossible in Earth’s gravity.  But this flight is also personal.  McClain is a lieutenant colonel in the U.S. Army. She is a helicopter pilot and instructor. She packed mementos to carry to space to remember brave soldiers lost.

"Being able to honor and remember them, because I learned so much working with each of them" means a lot, she said.

The launch is scheduled for Dec. 20.  The crew is expected to return home in June.