Space X's super rocket has taken off without hiccup, and space enthusiasts are seeing it as one giant leap towards Musk's ultimate goal of settling Mars.

By Joe McDonough

Posted on February 7, 2018

Elon Musk’s Falcon Heavy (FH) rocket has successfully launched from the Kennedy Space Center, Florida, at 3.45pm local time.

About one minute after take-off employees of Musk’s private company Space X erupted into a cheer when reports confirmed the vehicles had performed nominally.

The two side boosters and core stage completed their jobs, and then the upper stage engine began firing at 3.48pm.

Musk has sent up a red (midnight cherry) Tesla Roadster vehicle with a dummy driver named ‘Spaceman’ as a mock payload.

If all goes according to plan the vehicle will enter a highly elliptical orbit between the Earth and Mars, revolving around the sun, possibly for thousands of years.

It is a game-changer for the industry because it is the most powerful rocket in operation, capable of carrying approximately 37,000 pounds to Mars, and it is the first time a private company rather than a government space agency has launched such an impressive machine.

“This is, in many ways, the most significant launch since the first shuttle launch nearly four decades ago,” prominent space investor Dylan Taylor told CNBC.

It is being hailed by some as one giant leap towards Musk’s ultimate goal of colonising Mars, and is expected to speed up cheaper commercial space hauling.

And it has been a long time coming, with Musk initially declaring the inaugural flight would take place as early as 2013.

The billionaire CEO of Space X is now expected to charge on full steam ahead with the development of an even larger new-generation Big Falcon Rocket, which could be ready for launch in the mid-2020s.

There is also mention of a five-rocket Falcon Super Heavy, which would have around 9 million pounds of thrust (compared to FH’s 5 million), putting it in line with the Saturn V as the most powerful rocket ever built.

As the New York Times details, Musk’s Space X is just one of the burgeoning private space exploration companies making big moves.

Amazon founder Jeff Bezos, says the aim of settling other planets is what’s driving his rocket company, Blue Origin. Planetary Resources, backed by Google’s Larry Page and Braintree founder Bryan Johnson aims to mine asteroids, and Moon Express, based in Florida, sees the moon as “Earth’s 8th continent”, and wants to provide regular transportation to and from it.