CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. -- A new SpaceX jumbo rocket designed to become the world's most powerful launch vehicle in operation took its highly anticipated debut test flight on Tuesday from Florida, carrying a cherry red Tesla Roadster as a mock payload.
The launch was successful as broadcasts of the event showed the rocket heading into space on Tuesday afternoon.
The launch time at the Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral for the 23-story-tall Falcon Heavy rocket was delayed for more than two hours, until 3:45 p.m. ET, because of wind-shear conditions, according to the launch control team.
The successful launch could be a key turning point for Silicon Valley billionaire entrepreneur Elon Musk's privately owned Space Exploration Technologies, giving him a new edge over the handful of rivals vying for lucrative contracts with NASA, satellite companies and the U.S. military.
A crowd of several hundred spectators packed a campground at Jetty Park near Cocoa Beach, roughly 5 miles from the space center, to watch the blastoff.
Propelled by 27 rocket engines, the Falcon Heavy packed more than 5 million pounds of thrust at launch, roughly three times the force of the Falcon 9 booster that until now has been the workhorse of the SpaceX fleet.