SpaceX, the private space company founded by billionaire Elon Musk, successfully launched the most powerful commercial rocket in the world on Tuesday.
The Falcon Heavy, launched from NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida, took off with double the power of the world's next most powerful rocket, United Launch Alliance’s (ULA) Delta IV Heavy.
ULA, a Lockheed-Martin and Boeing joint venture, is SpaceX’s biggest rival.
The Falcon Heavy carried a red Tesla Motors Roadster with a mannequin strapped inside.
Musk, the chief executive of Tesla, told reporters on Monday that the Falcon Heavy operates at one-third the cost of the Delta IV Heavy, making it the top contender among available heavy-lift rockets.
SpaceX’s model is more cost-effective because the company recovers the booster part of the rocket.
Tuesday's flight was considered a risk, Musk said, with the challenges in developing the rocket putting the chances of a successful flight at 50 percent.
The Falcon Heavy, which is comprised of three Falcon 9 rockets, is also the first rocket of its power to be launched by a private company rather than the U.S. government.
The Air Force in 2015 certified SpaceX to launch national security missions. The move was made to help drive down launch prices and end U.S. reliance on Russian-made engines.
The Falcon Heavy will now help SpaceX compete for contracts to launch larger spy satellites. ULA previously had a monopoly on the Air Force's Evolved Expendable Launch Vehicle program for launching sensitive payloads into space.