SpaceX, the designer and manufacturer of rockets and spacecraft owned by billionaire entrepreneur Elon Musk, has successfully launched the world's most powerful rocket into space.

Falcon Heavy arced into space on its debut test flight on Tuesday from a launch site in Florida, carrying Musk’s personal Tesla Roadster with a dummy in the driver's seat called "Starman".

The message on the dashboard reads 'DON'T PANIC!' - a reference to Douglas Adams' sci-fi comedy novel The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy.

The rocket took off at 20:40 GMT from the Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral, the same pad where NASA launched moon missions decades ago.

Falcon Heavy’s two side boosters detached from the rocket a few minutes after launch and returned to earth, landing on the ground at Cape Canaveral for potential use in a future launch.

Musk described the launch as "probably the most exciting thing I have seen literally ever" and said the mission "went as well as one could have hoped".

"I had this image of just a giant explosion on the pad, a wheel bouncing down the road. But fortunately that's not what happened," he told reporters after the event.

The event was livestreamed from SpaceX's headquarters in Hawthorne, California, with Musk also providing occasional updates on Twitter.

The successful launch was also hailed by US President Donald Trump , who tweeted his congratulations.