The Latest: SpaceX launches big new rocket; lands 2 boosters

(AP) — The Latest on SpaceX rocket launch (all times local):

4 p.m.

SpaceX has hit a rocket straight out of the park on the first test flight of its big new rocket.

The Falcon Heavy rocket blasted off Tuesday afternoon from the same Florida launch pad used by NASA nearly 50 years ago to send men to the moon. With liftoff, the Heavy became the most powerful rocket in use today. Its three boosters and 27 engines roared to life at Kennedy Space Center.

Not only did the rocket lift a red sports car into orbit — with a dummy “Starman” at the wheel — two of the three boosters came back and landed upright at Cape Canaveral. The 15-story boosters landed at the same time, side by side.

There was no immediate word on whether the center booster managed to touch down on a floating platform 300 miles offshore.

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3:45 p.m.

SpaceX’s big new rocket has blasted off on its first test flight, carrying a red sports car on an endless road trip past Mars.

The Falcon Heavy rocket rose Tuesday from the same Florida launch pad used by NASA nearly 50 years ago to send men to the moon. With liftoff, the Heavy became the most powerful rocket in use today.

The three boosters and 27 engines roared to life at Kennedy Space Center, where thousands gathered to watch the launch which had been delayed by high wind.

Two of the boosters are recycled and programmed to return for another touchdown on land. The third is brand new and has its sights on an ocean platform.

SpaceX chief executive Elon Musk owns the rocketing Tesla Roadster, which is aiming for a solar orbit reaching Mars

1 p.m.

SpaceX’s big new rocket is ready to blast off on its first test flight. But high wind will keep it on the launch pad just a little longer.

Potentially dangerous gusts in the upper atmosphere forced the company to delay Tuesday’s launch of the Falcon Heavy by at least 1 ? hours. Liftoff is now scheduled for sometime after 3 p.m. from Florida’s Kennedy Space Center. That leaves less than an hour remaining in Tuesday’s launch window. Otherwise, the test flight will slip to Wednesday.

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At liftoff, the Heavy will become the world’s most powerful rocket in use today.

Thousands have gathered at the space center, and surrounding beaches and parks, to watch the Heavy soar with a sports car as cargo.

6:46 a.m.

It’s almost showtime for SpaceX’s big new rocket with a cherry-red sports car on top.

The Falcon Heavy rocket is poised to blast off Tuesday afternoon from Florida’s Kennedy Space Center.

It’s the long-awaited first test flight for the rocket. Once it soars, it will become the world’s most powerful rocket in use today. The Heavy is equipped with three boosters and 27 engines designed to provide about 5 million pounds of thrust.

SpaceX chief Elon Musk has his Tesla Roadster on board. Musk — who also heads up the Tesla electric carmaker — says he wanted to add some dramatic flair. Usually there are things like steel or concrete slabs or mundane experiments on test flights. SpaceX is targeting a long, oval orbit around the sun for the car.

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