When Falcon Heavy lifts off this afternoon, it will be the most powerful operational rocket in the world by a factor of two. With the ability to lift into orbit nearly 64 metric tons (141,000 lb)—a mass greater than a 737 jetliner loaded with passengers, crew, luggage, and fuel—Falcon Heavy can lift more than twice the payload of the next closest operational vehicle, the Delta IV Heavy, at one-third the cost. Falcon Heavy’s technology draws upon the heritage and reliability of Falcon 9.

Here’s a launch animation from SpaceX.

Falcon Heavy’s first stage is composed of three Falcon 9 nine-engine cores whose 27 Merlin engines together generate more than 5 million pounds of thrust at liftoff, equal to approximately eighteen 747 aircraft. Only the Saturn V moon rocket, last flown in 1973, delivered more payload to orbit. Falcon Heavy was designed from the outset to carry humans into space and restores the possibility of flying missions with a crew to the Moon or Mars.

Here’s your link to the live launch coverage.

WEBCAST: SpaceX’s Falcon Heavy launch, targeted for Feb. 6.

The launch was a spectacular success. Cheers to the 6,000+ member SpaceX team.