Falcon Heavy takes off on its maiden mission

  • Falcon Heavy takes off on its maiden mission

Falcon Heavy takes off on its maiden mission

Around 3:45 pm ET, the world's most powerful rocket took off from Kennedy Space Center in Florida.

Musk said he was feeling "giddy" about Tuesday's launch, and was not feeling the dread and anxiety he usually experiences ahead of time.

Falcon Heavy is twice as powerful as the next-most powerful rocket in the world today. Big day for space travel if it's successful.

"I love the thought of a vehicle drifting apparently endlessly through space and perhaps being discovered by an alien race millions of years in the future", Musk wrote in a Tweet. The live video feed of the ship cut out before the core approached; SpaceX has yet to confirm if the core successfully landed.

The Falcon Heavy Rocket is 20 stories tall and contains 27 engines.

The billionaire claimed that an unexpected explosion of the Falcon Heavy at liftoff would be the equivalent of 4 million pounds of TNT-which would almost demolish the pad that also hosted missions of NASA's celebrated Space Shuttle program. The Falcon Heavy is an extreme version of this setup, built to lift more and go further: What is essentially three Falcon 9 first stages boost the rocket into space, and SpaceX will attempt to land all three of them.

More: How does SpaceX's Falcon Heavy rocket work? Cameras on board the vehicle showed it still nestled inside the rocket's second-stage engine, which is headed deeper into outer space.

Now, finally, the rocket will blast-off - hopefully.

Following in the tradition of unusual payloads carried by SpaceX, including a wheel of cheese onboard the Dragon capsule, the Falcon heavy will carry the tech entrepreneur's own Tesla Roadster sports auto into space. The auto will carry a dummy that Musk dubbed "Starman". The auto will not enter orbit around Mars. SpaceX says the rocket is powerful enough to use for a mission to Mars, though they plan to use a different system if and when the time comes to make that trip.

Watch this animation to learn what the goal is for today's launch. But for now, SpaceX is planning for all crewed deep space missions, moon included, to be launched on BFR. The whole thing will take place over the course of just about two hours, with an hour and a half of devoted to pre-launch preparations.

Falcon 9 launches have been marred by explosions, and there are aspects of the Falcon Heavy that have never been tested in flight before. The rocket is also set to carry out a launch mission for the U.S. Air Force.