The SpaceX Falcon 9 spacecraft is being put through its paces in preparation for a launch next week. This afternoon, a full rehearsal will take place starting at 2:30pm EDT, culminating in the Falcon's nine engines firing at full power for two seconds. The actual event will occur at Cape Canaveral in Florida but will be streamed live on the SpaceX site; the rocket is expected to fire around 3pm. If all goes well, the Falcon 9, carrying a Dragon supply capsule, will launch into low-Earth orbit on May 7th, and SpaceX will attempt to dock with the International Space Station.
The Falcon and Dragon spacecraft are designed as replacements for the defunct Space Shuttles, and a successful docking would make the Dragon the first commercial craft ever to land at the ISS. However, the launch has already been delayed several times, and SpaceX cautions that it may not be able to successfully dock on the first trip. Today's test run will be the precursor to the first SpaceX flight since 2010, when a Dragon capsule was launched into orbit and successfully recovered.