As millions of people watched the much-anticipated launch of SpaceX's massive Falcon Heavy rocket with bated breath last week, CEO Elon Musk reacted with just as much shock and awe, if not more. National Geographic captured the Tesla and SpaceX executive's ecstatic reaction on Tuesday (6 February) as the powerful rocket roared to life to take its first flight towards Mars.
"Holy flying f**k, that thing took off," Musk said as the rocket rose from Launch Pad 39A at the Kennedy Space Center in an exclusive clip shared by National Geographic.
He and other SpaceX employees immediately run outside the launch control centre to watch as it soared skyward into space.
"Look at that! That's unreal!" Musk said pointing to the sky.
The clip is part of the second season of National Geographic's documentary series "Mars" scheduled to air in spring.
Musk had long warned that the Falcon Heavy's maiden launch may be a rocky one, saying viewers may either get to see "a great rocket launch or the best fireworks display." He even hoped the mega rocket would at least make it far away from the launch pad to avoid any significant damage and "blowing it to smithereens".
Strapped with three Falcon 9 boosters, the Falcon Heavy successfully lifted off at 3:45pm EST while two of the rocket boosters returned to Earth minutes later and landed nearly simultaneously and intact. However, the core, middle booster missed the landing on the "Of Course I Still Love You" drone ship and hit the water.
Dubbed the most powerful rocket in the world, it carried Musk's own midnight-cherry red Tesla Roadster complete with a mannequin named "Starman" after the David Bowie song. Musk said the car would be blasting Bowie's hit song "Space Odyssey" as it makes its way towards Mars orbit.
In a live stream of its journey into deep space, the car's dashboard also had the words "Don't Panic" on the dashboard - a nod to Douglas Adam's 1979 book "The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy", one of Musk's favourite books.
"Crazy things can come true," Musk told reporters at a press conference after the launch. "I didn't really think this would work — when I see the rocket lift up, I see a thousand things that could not work, and it's amazing when they do."