SpaceX’s Falcon Heavy took flight Tuesday, and everything appears to be going seamlessly.
Around 3:45 pm ET, the world’s most powerful rocket took off from Kennedy Space Center in Florida.
About two and a half minutes after launch, the two side boosters on the rocket detached and headed back to Earth.
Thousands of onlookers could be heard cheering through SpaceX’s livestream.
The rocket is built by SpaceX, the game-changing company helmed by billionaire Tesla CEO Elon Musk.
In the run up to launch, it wasn’t at all clear whether the rocket would work.
“People [came] from all around the world to see what will either be a great rocket launch or the best fireworks display they’ve ever seen,” Elon Musk said in an interview with CNN’s Rachel Crane.
When Falcon Heavy lifts off, it will be the most powerful operational rocket in the world by a factor of two. With the ability to lift into orbit nearly 64 metric tons (141,000 lb)—a mass greater than a 737 jetliner loaded with passengers, crew, luggage and fuel–Falcon Heavy can lift more than twice the payload of the next closest operational vehicle, the Delta IV Heavy, at one-third the cost. Falcon Heavy draws upon the proven heritage and reliability of Falcon 9.
Its first stage is composed of three Falcon 9 nine-engine cores whose 27 Merlin engines together generate more than 5 million pounds of thrust at liftoff, equal to approximately eighteen 747 aircraft. Only the Saturn V moon rocket, last flown in 1973, delivered more payload to orbit. Falcon Heavy was designed from the outset to carry humans into space and restores the possibility of flying missions with crew to the Moon or Mars.
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