PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — On the 50th anniversary of the Apollo 11 moon landing, a NASA astronaut with ties to western Pennsylvania will blast off into space.

Dr. Andrew Morgan has been training for this mission for years.

“This is my first space flight, and I’m extremely excited about that,” he said.

He was selected as a NASA astronaut in 2013. This July, he’ll launch to the International Space Station. He’ll be there for about nine months and will take part in 250 experiments.

“The whole time, we’re gonna be studying our bodies and how they react. In order for us to go further, say a trip to Mars, which may take as long as several years, then we definitely need to understand how we protect ourselves against radiation, how do we exercise our muscles, how do we keep our heart healthy,” Morgan said.

Andrew Morgan (Photo Credit: James Blair/NASA)

Morgan was born in Morgantown, W.Va., and grew up in a military family. He moved around a lot, but considers New Castle to be his hometown.

“My grandparents lived in New Castle, Pa., and that was where we went home for the summers, that’s where we went on the holidays, and that’s what I knew as home growing up,” Morgan said.

Morgan also plans to take a piece of Pittsburgh with him to space.

“I have a few things from the sports teams that I’ll be taking with me,” Morgan said.

During his nine months in space, Morgan says he’ll miss his family the most.

“As a military officer, I have spent time away from home as part of military deployments. This is gonna be a long one and it’s gonna be challenging in different ways, and so by far, that is gonna be the biggest challenge,” he said.

Morgan says he most looks forward to sharing the experience with everyone back on Earth.