‘An absolutely exciting time’: 4 astronauts aboard Crew Dragon begin journey to ISS from Space Coast

CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. — Four astronauts in the Crew Dragon Freedom are now in orbit, starting their 16-hour journey to the International Space Station.

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They lifted off from Central Florida at 3:52 a.m., when the clock hit zero.

Dozens of people woke up early to catch the launch at Space View Park in Titusville.

“I don’t even have words,” a spectator told Channel 9. “That was so awesome. I loved it.”

WATCH: Crew-4 mission launches from Space Coast

Crew-4 won’t reach the International Space Station until about 8:30 p.m. Wednesday.

This is an extremely busy time for NASA and SpaceX.

Teams had roughly 39 hours between the splashdown of the all-private Axiom-1 mission and the launch of Crew-4.

NASA astronauts Kjell Lindgren, Bob Hines and Jessica Watkits, and European Samantha Cristoforetti will spend at least five months aboard the space station.

READ: NASA & SpaceX: Crew-4 mission is a ‘go’ for launch

They’ll have four or five days to be briefed by Crew-3 before those astronauts splashdown.

Crew-4 will be aboard the space station when Boeing launches the second uncrewed orbital flight test for its Starliner spacecraft to the Space Station on May 19.

The company is trying to demonstrate that the Starliner is ready to fly crews to space.

“It is just an absolutely exciting time. Just a few weeks ago, when Axiom-1 was on the launch pad and we saw a picture of Ax-1 and the SLS Artemis rocket, it really was a culmination of a lot of what commercial crew has been doing over the past 10 years, which is to enable commercial spaceflight so NASA can focus on deep space,” said Crystal Jones, deputy manager of ground and mission operations for the Commercial Crew Program.

Read: Following successful Axiom splashdown, officials turn to launching Crew-4 mission

Right now, NASA and SpaceX are focused on the safe arrival of Crew-4.

As soon as they are safely aboard the space station, teams can turn their attention to a crew splashdown next week, weather willing.

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