SpaceX set to launch massive Falcon Heavy rocket

The rocket will be carrying a red Tesla Roadster.

The car "will be in deep space for a billion years or so if it doesn’t blow up on ascent," Musk tweeted in December.

"Red car for a red planet," Musk, who runs the electric car company in addition to SpaceX, added.

Musk said today the launch is one big gamble, but oddly enough, he's not feeling any pre-launch jitters. "I’m excited and giddy," he said Monday.

But he is worried the car won’t survive low Earth orbit -- just getting through the Van Allen radiation belt will be a challenge -- but if it succeeds, after that, the rocket will get into a trajectory for Mars, he said.

The launch is a critical step in Musk’s plan to send two private passengers into orbit around the moon -- this is the rocket and capsule that will be needed to do so.

That's where reusable rockets come in. The Falcon Heavy's boosters will detach after launch, eventually coming to rest on land or a drone ship for reuse on a future flight.

SpaceX will attempt to land all three boosters, two on land and one on sea, another first for the company.

Setting up shop on the Red Plant is "a fairly significant technical challenge," Musk admitted -- it is rocket science, after all -- but "I think it would be the most inspiring thing that I could possibly imagine."