Space Exploration Technologies (SpaceX) is set to test fire the nine (9) Merlin engines on the Falcon 9 tasked with the launch of the Dragon spacecraft to the International Space Station (ISS).
SpaceX will begin its webcast at 11:30 AM Phoenix time (1830 UTC), and if all goes well, ignite the engines at 12:00 PM (1900 UTC). SpaceX engineers will conduct a complete rehearsal of the upcoming launch of the Dragon. That flight is to fulfill the second set of test requirements under the Commercial Orbital Transportation Services (COTS) program.
If Dragon performs the COTS 2 requirements, NASA can give the go ahead to perform the COTS 3 maneuvers, which could lead to the Dragon being grappled by the Canadarm on the ISS and berthing to the Space Station.
If the Dragon berths successfully, 1,200 pounds of supplies will be unloaded and SpaceX will start this Fall to fulfill its Commercial Resupply Services (CRS) contract for NASA for at least 12 missions to carry cargo to and from the space station.
Dragon will undock from the Space Station at the end of May after its three week mission, and return with nearly 1,400 pounds of science experiments and equipment to splash down in the Pacific off the coast of Southern California.