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Will SpaceX Heavy rocket launch lead to American astronauts on moon and Mars?

FLORIDA – The same launch pad at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida that sent man to the moon could return Americans to our place in space.

The Space X Heavy Rocket poised and ready for takeoff could be America’s answer to once again launching American astronauts on American-made rockets.

PHOTOS: 5 things to know about the Falcon Heavy launch

“For America it is extremely important. We need to get back into space. Just think. Right now if you want to launch an American into space, you’ve got to go talk to the Russians. He has to go up or she has to go up on a Soyuz,” said Dr. Carolyn Sumners, the vice president of astronomy at the Houston Museum of Natural Science.

“We are working on our own system, NASA is. But the Falcon Heavy is coming in a lot less expensive. We’re talking about less than $100 million, which is honestly pretty cheap to get a lot of stuff into space,” she said 

Sumners said the Earth has the most surface gravity. That means it is hardest to get off of our planet and into space. She said the Falcon Heavy offers the best chance at going back to the moon and on to Mars because of its heavy lift abilities. The Falcon Heavy can carry more payload than any rocket since the Saturn V moon rocket.

For this launch, the Falcon Heavy will carry a red Tesla Roadster to orbit the red planet. If all goes well, civilian astronauts could orbit the moon later this year.

“It’s an extremely important loss because it does what America does best. It’s clever. It’s creative. It’s innovative. It is less expensive. It will get a lot of stuff into space. It does what it’s supposed to do,” Sumners said. 

Tuesday's launch is scheduled for 12:30 p.m. Houston time. The launch window closes at 3 p.m. Houston time.

To watch Falcon Heavy test flight, click here.