SpaceX to Webcast Static Fire

©NASA TV

Dragon spacecraft being rotated before it is mated to the Falcon 9 rocket

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 www.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.

SpaceX also plans to broadcast the entire launch live at www.spacex.com on launch day.

About SpaceX

SpaceX designs, manufactures and launches the world's most advanced rockets and spacecraft. With a diverse manifest of launches to deliver commercial and government satellites to orbit, SpaceX is the world's fastest growing launch services provider. In 2010, SpaceX became the first commercial company in history to put a spacecraft into orbit and return it safely to Earth. With the retirement of the space shuttle, the SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket and Dragon spacecraft will soon carry cargo, and one day astronauts, to and from the International Space Station for NASA. Founded in 2002 by Elon Musk, SpaceX is a private company owned by management and employees, with minority investments from Founders Fund, Draper Fisher Jurvetson, and Valor Equity Partners. The company has over 1,700 employees in California, Texas, Washington, DC, and Florida. For more information, visit www.SpaceX.com.

Artist's rendition of the Dragon spacecraft at the International Space Station.

This week the Dragon spacecraft was mated to the Falcon 9 rocket in SpaceX's hangar in Cape Canaveral, FL. CREDIT: NASA

SpaceX engineers prepare for the launch at SpaceX's launch control center in Cape Canaveral, FL.

NASA has more pictures at: http://mediaarchive.ksc.nasa.gov/search.cfm?cat=225

Please follow SpaceRef on Twitter and Like us on Facebook.