SpaceX Successfully Launches Falcon Heavy Rocket in Maiden Flight

SpaceX on Tuesday successfully launched its Falcon Heavy, the world's most powerful rocket, from the Kennedy Space Center in Florida.

The massive rocket, carrying a red Tesla Roadster with a mock SpaceX astronaut named Starman, rose over the Atlantic Ocean before its two expended solid rocket boosters fell back to Earth and landed upright as planned. It is unclear at the moment where the center core landed after it broke away.

The Roadster and Starman are set to travel away from Earth onto an elliptical orbit around the sun that extends as far out as Mars' orbit.

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The launch marked the first time that a private company, rather than a government space agency, has sent a rocket this powerful into space. Billionaire Elon Musk founded SpaceX and has dreams of sending people to Mars.

The Falcon Heavy has three central boosters and 27 engines, which generate a combined five million pounds of thrust at liftoff.

A photograph from inside the rocket revealed the words "DON'T PANIC" on the dashboard computer in the car, whose red color is symbolic of Musk's hopes to reach Mars, the Red Planet.