Showtime for SpaceX's big new rocket with sports vehicle on top

Ракета Илона Маска уцелела после падения в океан

Eventually, it's meant to send spacecraft to the moon, Mars and beyond.

Last month it was claimed a USA spy satellite launched aboard a SpaceX rocket spectacularly failed to reach orbit and crashed into the Indian Ocean. If all goes according to plan, the rocket will send its odd payload - Musk's own red Tesla Roadster- out to Mars orbit this afternoon.

That same year, SpaceX began regular cargo missions to supply the astronauts living in space with its gumdrop-shaped Dragon cargo ship, launched atop the Falcon 9 rocket, under a $1.6 billion contract with NASA. To properly test the rocket there needs to be something in there, and in many cases a dummy mass or a heavy weight is used. He's striving to put the vehicle into a perpetual solar orbit reaching out as far as Mars, the focus of all his rocket efforts as he aims to establish a city there in years to come.

In December, SpaceX chief Elon Musk posted a series of pictures on Instagram of the red Tesla Roadster inside the Falcon Heavy. "There's no point, obviously", said Musk.

However, Space X has competition from other private companies such as Blue Origin - the space company launched by Amazon founder Jeff Bezos - which is aiming to launch its New Glenn rocket in 2020, and from Boeing which is developing Nasa's Space Launch System. The rocket has 2 Falcon 9 rocket mounted on it.

The ambitious launch will see the colossal 27 engine Falcon Heavy rocket blast off into space, making it the most powerful rocket operating on, and off, Earth.

Scheduled to liftoff from Florida's Space Coast in Cape Canaveral, Falcon Heavy will also look to make history by landing three core engines shortly after liftoff.

Because this is the maiden flight of the rocket, Musk has made a decision to risk his old cherry-red Tesla roadster as the payload.

Only NASA's Saturn V rocket, which carried six crews - and three electric cars - to the moon nearly 50 years ago, could deliver more payload to orbit. The Falcon Heavy launch will be streamed on the SpaceX site.

The Delta IV Heavy, which is built by legacy aerospace firm United Launch Alliance and is now the world's most powerful rocket, can reportedly cost as much as $400 million per launch.

"It's guaranteed to be exciting one way or another", Musk told reporters at Monday's press conference.

7 minutes, 58 seconds: The two side boosters (the ones that detached first) are expected to guide themselves to a landing.

However, Musk reasserted that there is a good chance the test launch will fail.

That opens up a whole range of business opportunities for SpaceX, which has been leading a new era of spaceflight in which companies - not just governments - drive the industry forward.