ETimes: NASA launches four astronauts into space Photogallery

A cute soft toy of Baby Yoda was spotted floating around astronauts aboard SpaceX’s Crew Dragon spacecraft

A cute soft toy of Baby Yoda was spotted floating around astronauts aboard SpaceX’s Crew Dragon spacecraft

The spacecraft is expected to dock with the ISS around 11 pm ET, after a 27-hour journey.

The Child (technically a stuffed toy) served as the crew's "zero G indicator", an object that helps the astronauts know when they have broken free of Earth's gravity when it starts floating through the cockpit.

Nasa astronauts, from left, Shannon Walker, Victor Glover, and Michael Hopkins, and Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency astronaut Soichi Noguchi leave the operations and checkout building on their way to launchpad 39A.

SpaceX briefly transmitted live images from inside the capsule showing the astronauts in their seats, something neither the Russians nor the Americans had done before.

The Falcon rocket and Dragon capsule they used to get off Earth is a service the Californian firm SpaceX now sells to Nasa.

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"What an unbelievable last couple of days ..."

Glover's inclusion in the mission has its own historical significance - he is the first Black American to become a full-time crew member on the ISS. Indeed, given how some private sector players-largely US-based-are already working on developing manned flight capabilities for the solar orbit, including interplanetary travel, India has a lot of catching up to do if it is to continue to flex the space muscle that Isro operations have developed for it. Pacific Standard Time, after launching Cape Canaveral at 7:27 p.m. Sunday.

At the end of its missions, the Crew Dragon deploys parachutes and then splashes down in water, just as in the Apollo era.

A few minutes later, the crew of three Americans and one Japanese emerged from the capsule and boarded the station, greeting the existing crew of one USA astronaut and two Russian cosmonauts with hugs and high fives.

It was not immediately clear which of the many Baby Yoda plushies on the market is on board the Crew Dragon. "It was an unbelievable ride". And so we are so excited to be here. "We are looking forward to getting this crew to station to continue our important work, and I want to thank the teams for the wonderful effort to make the next generation of human space transportation possible".

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The four astronauts were part of the second crewed flight of a SpaceX spacecraft. The Dragon spacecraft is able to stay in orbit for at least 210 days and delivered more than 500 pounds of cargo and new science hardware and experiments.

In this frame grab from Nasa TV, astronauts Mike Hopkins, left, and Victor Glover monitor controls aboard SpaceX Dragon as the capsule approaches the International Space Station.

"Looks fantastic", Mission Control radioed from the SpaceX headquarters in Hawthorne, California.

NASA officials have highlighted the importance of sending more astronauts to the ISS, which increases the capacity for scientific research in space.

Earlier, mission commander Hopkins gave pilot Glover his "gold pin", a NASA tradition when an astronaut first crosses the 100-kilometre Karman line marking the official boundary of space.

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The Dragon has completed 22 flights to and from the space station, according to SpaceX.

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