SpaceX hopes to launch its  Falcon Heavy rocket today from Kennedy Space Center. The 3 hour window for the launch opens at 1:30 pm EST  (1830 GMT). There are large crowds reported gathering in the Cape Canaveral area to watch the launch.

Falcon Heavy on Pad 39A on Monday evening, Feb.5, 2018

SpaceX founder and CEO Elon Musk gives this test a 50/50 chance of success. Problems could range from an explosion on the pad due violent interactions of the exhausts of 27 engines firing simultaneously to problems with the two side boosters separating from the core. Here is a recording of a press briefing given by ELon yesterday:

With the high risks for the first launch of a new rocket, usually a boilerplate mock-up of a spacecraft or just plain ballast is used as a payload. Elon instead chose to fly his red Tesla Roadster.

Elon’s red Tesla Roadster set on an adapter before placement in the Falcon Heavy nosecone.

If the flight is a success, the roadster will be sent into an orbit that will see the roadster cycling out to the orbit of Mars and back near earth for the next billion years or so.

Here is a SpaceX animation of the mission. Note that the two side boosters are to return to the Cape for landing on ground pads while the center core will attempt to land on a platform at sea:

About 15-20 minutes before lift off, the SpaceX webcast will go live. You can also watch it here:

As of 12:10 pm EST, the target liftoff time is 2:20 pm EST (1920 UTC) . If the rocket does not get off the ground today, there will be another opportunity on Wednesday afternoon.

Updates and background info on the launch:

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