Scientists from privately held space exploration firm SpaceX began testing their Falcon 9 rocket on Monday, one week before the company is set to make its historic launch to the International Space Station (ISS). The occasion will mark the first time that a privately held organization has jumped into the space race on such a direct level.
If successful the ISS docking will make SpaceX the first private company to dock with the station.
SpaceX plans to send their Falcon 9 rocket into space, that rocket will be topped with the company’s Dragon space capsule which will be filled with cargo for astronauts already sitting aboard the ISS.
The launch is currently scheduled for May 7 at Cape Canveral Air Force Stations Launch Pad 40 location.
Monday’s test is a full dress rehearsal in which engineers plan to run through all of the procedures that will be executed during the Falcon 9 rocket launch.
When all systems are a go engineers at the company will fire all nine of the rockets engines during a static fire test which lasts two seconds.
SpaceX’s Kirsten Grantham tells CF News 13:
“It’s very important we go through, we test all the systems, we make sure everything works as it’s supposed to, so that on launch day everything goes flawlessly.”
Before docking with the International Space State the Dragon capsule will perform a 1½ flyby to check its sensors and ensure a safe docking. The Dragon capsule will also attempt a full on berth abort in order to full check the capsules systems.
With a $1.5 billion contract in place with NASA this missing is important for SpaceX however the company concedes that in many ways its still just a “test mission” that will allow SpaceX to work out any kinks in its systems.
Here’s last weeks press conference from SpaceX founder Elon Musk in which he talks about the company’s progress leading up to next weeks launch: