SpaceX launch from Cape Canaveral ends NASA's decades-long dominance and marks debut for commercial space operators.
For the first time in history, a private company plans to launch an unmanned rocket into orbit.
People working near the Cape Canaveral on Florida's "Space Coast" are keenly awaiting Saturday's scheduled launch of the SpaceX mission.
For some it holds a promise of employment in a region which has lost thousands of jobs since the shutdown of NASA's multi-billion dollar space shuttle programme last year.
If all goes well, the Falcon 9 rocket's dragon capsule will become the first private spacecraft to rendezvous with the International Space Station. Space X says they hope to send astronauts into low orbit by 2015.
But some say space flight should remain a government-run endeavour.
"There is one thing that everyone knows and that is that we are not launching manned flights at this moment and we can't," said former NASA employee Chris Milner. "And that's not good for our country and for the local area because that means there's still people out there looking for jobs."
Al Jazeera's Andy Gallacher reports from Cape Canaveral.
Source: Al Jazeera