Today, SpaceX is test-firing the engines of its Falcon 9 rocket in preparation for that oft-delayed May 7th launch for its Dragon capsule. You'll be able to watch the static-fire test from the comfort of your own desk by pointing a browser at the company website (link below) from 2:30pm ET / 11:30am PT. If successful, then the rocket will lift-off properly in a week's time, with designs on being the first commercial craft used to resupply the International Space Station.
Update: For those who missed the live stream, you can check out a replay of today's event just after the break.
SPACEX TO WEBCAST STATIC FIRE FOR UPCOMING MISSION ON MONDAY
Mission Would Make SpaceX the First Commercial Company to Attempt to Send a Spacecraft to the International Space Station
Hawthorne, CA – On Monday, April 30, Space Exploration Technologies (SpaceX) will webcast a static fire test of the Falcon 9 rocket's nine powerful Merlin engines in preparation for the company's upcoming launch.
The webcast, available at spacex.com, is set to begin at 2:30 PM ET/ 11:30 AM PT, with the actual static fire targeted for 3:00 PM ET/ 12:00 PM PT.
The 9 engine test will take place at the company's Space Launch Complex 40 (SLC-40) at the Cape Canaveral Air Force Station as part of a full launch dress rehearsal leading up to the second Commercial Orbital Transportation Services (COTS) launch. During the rehearsal, SpaceX engineers will run through all countdown processes as though it were launch day. The exercise will end with all nine engines firing at full power for two seconds.
After the test, SpaceX will conduct a thorough review of all data as engineers make final preparations for the upcoming launch, currently targeted for May 7. SpaceX plans to launch its Dragon spacecraft into low-Earth orbit atop a Falcon 9 rocket. During the mission, Dragon's sensors and flight systems will be subject to a series of tests to determine if the vehicle is ready to berth with the space station. If NASA decides Dragon is ready, the vehicle will attach to the station and astronauts will open Dragon's hatch and unload the cargo onboard.
This will be the first attempt by a commercial company to send a spacecraft to the International Space Station, a feat previously performed by only a few governments. Success is not guaranteed. If any aspect of the mission is not successful, SpaceX will learn from the experience and try again. It is also the second demonstration flight under NASA's program to develop commercial supply services to the International Space Station. The first SpaceX COTS flight, in December 2010, made SpaceX the first commercial company in history to send a spacecraft to orbit and return it safely to Earth. Once SpaceX demonstrates the ability to carry cargo to the space station, it will begin to fulfill its Commercial Resupply Services (CRS) contract for NASA for at least 12 missions to carry cargo to and from the space station. The Falcon 9 rocket and Dragon spacecraft were designed to one day carry astronauts; both the COTS and CRS missions will yield valuable flight experience toward this goal.