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SpaceX Starman
A mannequin “Starman” sits at the wheel of a Tesla Roadster in this photo posted on the Instagram account of Elon Musk, head of auto company Tesla and founder of the private space company SpaceX. The car will be on board when SpaceX launches its new rocket, the Falcon Heavy, from Kennedy Space Center at Cape Canaveral, Fla., scheduled for Tuesday, Feb. 6, 2018. (Courtesy of Elon Musk/Instagram via AP)

Showtime for SpaceX's big new rocket with sports car on top

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By MARCIA DUNN, AP Aerospace Writer

CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. (AP) — It's almost showtime for SpaceX's big new rocket with a cherry-red sports car on top.

The Falcon Heavy rocket is poised to blast off Tuesday afternoon from Florida's Kennedy Space Center.

It's the long-awaited first test flight for the rocket. Once it soars, it will become the world's most powerful rocket in use today. The Heavy is equipped with three boosters and 27 engines designed to provide about 5 million pounds of thrust.

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SpaceX chief Elon Musk has his Tesla Roadster on board. Musk — who also heads up the Tesla electric carmaker — says he wanted to add some dramatic flair. Usually there are things like steel or concrete slabs or mundane experiments on test flights. SpaceX is targeting a long, oval orbit around the sun for the car. In the driver's seat of the convertible is "Starman," a dummy in a spacesuit, with one hand on the steering wheel.

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