CAPE CANAVERAL (CBSMiami) – The most powerful rocket on the planet took flight Tuesday afternoon in a seamless, but slightly delayed debut test launch.
SpaceX’s Falcon Heavy, the most powerful rocket since Apollo’s Saturn V, launched from the Kennedy Space Center’s historic launch pad 39A. The launch, originally scheduled for 1:30 p.m., was delayed for several hours due to wind conditions.
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.
SpaceX has shaken up the rocket industry by becoming the first company to successfully reuse rocket boosters in order to bring down the cost of spaceflight. To do that, it guides the rockets back to Earth for a safe landing after sending their payloads toward orbit.
On this flight, there is a cherry red original model Tesla Roadster, playing David Bowie’s “Space Oddity” and carrying a dummy pilot dubbed “Starman. Tesla and SpaceX CEO Elon Musk wants to put the car and Starbman into orbit around Mars.
“Like a lot of people don’t understand what’s the purpose of sending a car to Mars. There’s no point, obviously,” said Musk. “It’s just for fun and to get the public excited, but as you were saying, it’s normally when a new rocket is tested, they put something really boring on board, like a block of concrete or a chunk of steel or something.”
SpaceX hopes the Falcon Heavy will one day carry humans into space and fly missions with crews to the Moon or Mars.
The first stage of the Falcon Heavy is composed of three Falcon 9 nine-engine cores whose 27 Merlin engines together generate over five million pounds of thrust, equal to approximately eighteen 747 aircraft.