Updated:CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. —
NASA hasn't seen this much prelaunch jitters since the space shuttle program ended last summer. On Saturday, a private company is set to make history by launching a supply ship to the International Space Station. The rocket maker known as SpaceX hopes to join a short list of governments in flying to the orbiting lab.
NASA officials said Friday this is a "seminal moment" for spaceflight and an extremely important mission.
The SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket is scheduled to blast off from Cape Canaveral at precisely 4:55 a.m. Forecasters put the odds of good weather at 70 percent.
Watch the launch live on WFTV and WFTV.com.
SpaceX said it wants to prove it can send cargo to the space station safely, and NASA is hoping for success because then the U.S. won't have to rely on other countries to get supplies back and forth.
After weeks of delays and software testing, the company believes it is ready for the second test flight from Cape Canaveral.
The rocket will carry the Dragon capsule into orbit en route to the space station.
The head of SpaceX told WFTV he would only say the odds of mission success are better than 50 percent.
"I think we're more likely than not to succeed in this mission, but it is a test flight and there's certainly any number of things that could go wrong," said Space X CEO Elon Musk.
Because it's a new spacecraft, it's not going to fly straight to the space station and dock.
A number of tests will be done after it reaches orbit and then next Tuesday, if NASA gives the go ahead, the craft will approach the space station and the astronauts will grab it with the robotic arm and bring it in to dock.
SpaceX said it hopes to put astronauts aboard the same capsule. However, until that happens, NASA will continue to rely on the Russians to ferry people back and forth to the space station.