Here's why it says 'DON'T PANIC!' on the dashboard of the car Elon Musk just shot toward Mars

SpaceXThe view of Earth from Elon Musk’s Tesla Roaster.
  • SpaceX has launched Falcon Heavy, the most powerful rocket the company has ever built.
  • The rocket lifted off Tuesday from a historic Apollo-era launchpad at Kennedy Space Center in Florida, where Business Insider is on the ground.
  • Musk put his Tesla Roadster on top as a test payload.
  • The car is heading toward Mars orbit.

SpaceX on Tuesday launched its Falcon Heavy rocket – the company’s biggest – into space, carrying Elon Musk’s midnight-cherry-red Tesla Roadster.

Soon after the launch, Musk tweeted a live feed of the car and its driver, a dummy named Starman (after the David Bowie song), with Earth in the background.

But that’s not the only pop-culture reference in the car.

On the car’s center screen are the words “DON’T PANIC!” It’s a reference to the words on the cover of the guide in “The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy,” the 1979 book that was first in a series by Douglas Adams about an accidental space traveller named Arthur Dent.

Musk, who first read “The Hitchhiker’s Guide” as a teenager, has said he loves the book.

When asked in a 2015 interview about his favourite spaceship from science fiction, he said, “I’d have to say that would be the one in ‘The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy’ that’s powered by the improbability drive.”

Watch the livestream of Starman and the Tesla Roadster:

NOW WATCH: Briefing videos

Business Insider Emails & Alerts

Site highlights each day to your inbox.

Follow Business Insider Australia on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Instagram.