The SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket and its attached Dragon spacecraft exhaled flames for a few seconds today at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida.
After pausing the first attempt at a test firing of the Falcon 9 due to a glitch just moments before the end of the countdown, SpaceX proceeded with a second attempt, which succeeded. The rocket remained stationary, but the system passed the "static fire" test with flying colors, putting Elon Musk's commercial space venture one step closer to reaching the International Space Station for the first time.
The test firing was the height of a full dress rehearsal for SpaceX's second demonstration launch for NASA, which has given millions of dollars to support the company's efforts. Falcon 9 is scheduled to lift off on May 7, carrying the unmanned, gumdrop-shaped Dragon craft out of the atmosphere where it will attempt to robotically approach the space station. If all goes well, it could proceed to attempt rendezvous maneuvers with the ISS, making it the first commercial craft to drop in for a visit.
SpaceX spokesperson Kirstin Brost Grantham said in an e-mail following the launch that "so far things look good. Engines fired for 2 seconds, as scheduled. Engineers will now review data as we continue preparations for the upcoming launch."
Watch the video below to see Falcon 9 and its attached Dragon puffing smoke.