UPDATE: Watch SpaceX's Falcon Heavy rocket make its maiden flight today
After months of delays, SpaceX’s Falcon Heavy rocket is ready for its maiden flight early this afternoon.
UPDATE: The launch is now expected to happen at 3:45 pm.
PREVIOUS STORY: According to Astronaut Scott Kelly, the launch has been delayed until 3:05 pm.
PREVIOUS STORY: After months of delays, SpaceX’s Falcon Heavy rocket is ready for its maiden flight early this afternoon.
Plans call for the gigantic booster, which one day could take astronauts to the moon and Mars, to blast off from Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral, Florida between 1:30 p.m. and 4:00 p.m. Eastern Time.
The weather appears to be cooperating, with current forecasts showing an 80 percent chance of favorable conditions.
SpaceX will stream today’s test launch on its website, and you can also catch the action via a live YouTube feed here.
SpaceX CEO Elon Musk said he felt “quite giddy” about the launch. "What I find strange about this flight is normally I feel super stressed out the day before,” he told reporters in a press briefing held Monday, Feb. 5. “This time I don't.”
The Falcon Heavy is essentially a supersized version of SpaceX’s standard Falcon 9 rocket, which has been ferrying cargo to the International Space Station since 2012. But instead of one central booster, there are three — and three times the thrust of the Falcon 9.
The rocket weighs more than 3.1 million pounds and stands almost 230 feet high. It's designed to carry up to 140,000 pounds to low-Earth orbit, or more than 37,000 pounds all the way to Mars.
The Falcon Heavy is designed to lift more payload to orbit than any American booster since NASA’s Saturn V, the rocket that took astronauts to the moon during the agency’s Apollo program.
Some see the Falcon Heavy as an alternative to NASA’s Space Launch System, the huge new rocket that the space agency is developing with the goal of carrying astronauts into deep space and Mars.
For its maiden launch, the Falcon Heavy will be carrying a special payload from Musk’s electric car company: a red Tesla Roadster. Initially, Musk said he intended to put the car into orbit around Mars, but the current plan is to send the car into an elliptical orbit around the sun.
Today’s test launch will occur from Launch Pad 39A, the site of some of the most historic launches in space history. The Apollo 11 mission that landed Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin on the moon launched from Pad 39A in 1969, and the first space shuttle, Columbia, launched from 39A in 1981.
Additional reporting was contributed by Alyssa Newcomb.