Watch Live: SpaceX's Falcon Heavy Will Have Inaugural Launch Today

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A SpaceX Falcon 9 lifts off during a previous mission. The Falcon Heavy is essentially three modified Falcon 9 rockets strapped together. SpaceX/Public Domain

Elon Musk's SpaceX is set to launch its Falcon Heavy rocket this afternoon from the Kennedy Space Center in Florida. The mammoth vehicle can carry more than twice the payload of the next most powerful rocket.

But powered by no less than 27 engines, there is a high risk of failure. The rocket might make it to space, explode on the launchpad, or crash and burn somehow on its way up.

Whether it succeeds or fails, the launch will be a spectacular affair. You can watch the event live below from 1:30 p.m. ET.

Credit: SpaceX

This mission will be record-breaking. It is set to send the first ever private payload beyond a high geostationary orbit and, hopefully, close to the Red Planet.

Read more: Elon Musk's SpaceX Falcon Heavy: Everything you need to know about the world's most powerful rocket about to launch

If all goes to plan, the rocket will blast off from Launch Complex 39A, the historic seat of the Apollo 11 mission—the spaceflight that first took man to the moon. The Falcon Heavy's engines will all ignite for liftoff, generating more than five million pounds of thrust. This will propel the rocket into space. It will shed its two boosters—modified Falcon 9 rockets—and fly toward an elliptical orbit around the sun. This orbit should take it close to Mars itself.

The Falcon Heavy will carry Musk's own Tesla Roadster sports car into space. "[The roadster will] get about 400 million km (250 million miles) away from Earth, and it'll be doing 11km/s (7 miles/s)," he told reporters in a briefing on Monday. "We estimate it will be in that orbit for several hundred million years, maybe in excess of a billion years."

Three cameras fixed to the car will document the mission and provide, Musk says, "epic views."

Critics have pointed to the fate of the Soviet N-1 rocket, a huge 30-engine beast which failed to launch four times, Ars Technica reports. Musk himself has commented on the risks of the mission.

Musk said: "If it goes wrong, hopefully it goes wrong far into the mission so at least we learn as much as possible along the way...I'll consider it a win if it just clears the pad and doesn't blow the pad to smithereens."

Yesterday, Musk shared an animation of the launch on Twitter, which gives an idea of how SpaceX hopes the event will play out.

Credit: SpaceX

If the launch is delayed for some reason, a back-up window is scheduled for Wednesday.