LIVE from SpaceX: Falcon 9 Rocket to Test Fire Engines
This still from a SpaceX animation depicts an unmanned Dragon spacecraft re-entering Earth's atmosphere ahead of a planned splashdown in the ocean.
Credit: SpaceX.

SpaceX, a private spaceflight company that could become the first commercial firm to launch a spaceship to low-Earth orbit, will perform a full dress rehearsal today (Dec. 3) of the capsule's planned first launch next week.

The California-based SpaceX (Space Exploration Technologies) will webcast the static fire test of the Falcon 9 rocket engines here. The webcast is set to begin at 11:00 a.m. EST (1600 GMT), and the test will likely occur after 12:30 p.m. EST (1730 GMT).

The company plans to launch its Dragon spacecraft into low-Earth orbit atop a Falcon 9 rocket for the first time on Dec. 7. The launch is also the first flight under NASA?s Commercial Orbital Transportation Services program to develop commercial supply services to the International Space Station. [Illustration of Dragon re-entering Earth's atmosphere.]

SpaceX has a $1.6 billion contract with NASA to launch cargo aboard the Dragon capsule to the station.

After NASA's space shuttles retire, SpaceX plans to fly at least 12 missions to carry supplies to and from the orbital outpost.