Watch | Indian-origin astronaut leads SpaceX's mission to International Space Station

Watch | Indian-origin astronaut leads SpaceX's mission to International Space Station

SpaceX launch director Mark Soltys told the crew, ''Enjoy your holidays among the stars. We’ll be waving as you fly by.''

Elon Musk's SpaceX has sent four astronauts to the International Space Station in its fifth crewed mission.

The company's Dragon capsule roared into outer space atop a Falcon 9 rocket, including the 600th person to reach space in 60 years, from NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida.

According to mission commander Raja Chari, ''It was a great ride, better than we imagined.''

The crew launch marked SpaceX’s fourth for NASA and the company’s fifth passenger flight overall, including a September charter flight for four that skipped the space station.

The Dragon capsule’s toilet leaked during their three days in orbit, necessitating a quick redesign of the flushing system in the newest capsule, named Endurance by its crew.

SpaceX launch director Mark Soltys told the crew, ''Enjoy your holidays among the stars. We’ll be waving as you fly by.''

"Crew-3" includes two members of NASA's latest graduating class of astronauts, Indian-origin Raja Chari, 44, a US Air Force combat jet and test pilot serving as mission commander, and mission specialist Kayla Barron, 34, a US Navy submarine officer and nuclear engineer.

Watch | Indian-origin astronaut leads SpaceX's mission to International Space Station
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Chari's father, Sreenivas is from Telangana in India, while his mother, Peggy Egbert is from Iowa in the United States.

The list of 600 travelers ranges from those who have barely scratched space, like actor William Shatner last month, to US and Russian astronauts who have spent a year or more in orbit.

This year’s surge in space tourists helped push the tally over the 600 mark. That averages out to 10 people per year since Yuri Gagarin’s pioneering flight in 1961.

NASA has extolled space station missions in low-Earth orbit as critical training grounds and incubators for technologies that will help achieve the goals of a sustainable lunar presence and eventual human flights to Mars.

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