Billionaire entrepreneur Elon Musk left a hidden message on the Tesla Roadster that his SpaceX company launched into space onboard the world’s most powerful rocket, Falcon Heavy, on Tuesday.
Using the cherry red Tesla Roadster as a mock payload, the 23-storey Falcon Heavy launched at 3:45 p.m. ET from the Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral.
The car is supposed to be sent into a virtually indefinite solar orbit, on a path taking it as far from Earth as Mars. Adding to the whimsy, SpaceX planted a space-suited mannequin, dubbed Starman, in the driver’s seat of the convertible.
“I’m still trying to absorb everything that happened because it seemed surreal to me,” Musk told reporters after the successful launch. “I had this image of just a giant explosion on the pad with, you know, a wheel bouncing down the road. Like a Tesla logo landing somewhere with a thud.”
Musk added that the launch was one of the most exciting things he has ever seen.
WATCH: ‘Crazy things can come true’: Elon Musk discusses Falcon Heavy launch
The livestream of the launch showed the Tesla drifting through space with Starman at the helm and the words “Don’t Panic!” displayed on the dashboard screen, an apparent nod to the Douglas Adams novel The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, a book the billionaire said he read as a teen during an “existential crisis.”
Late last year, Musk mused on Twitter that the Roadster will travel with a copy of the novel in the car’s glove box “plus a towel and a sign saying ‘Don’t Panic,’” a phrase that appears on the cover of the book.
Musk said the idea of launching the car into space was more for fun rather than using something “really boring like a chunk of concrete” to test the payload of a new rocket.
“Maybe it will be discovered by some future alien race,” Musk told reporters. “What were these guys doing? Did they worship this car?”
And if aliens do in fact stumble upon the Roadster, they may find a message hidden within the vehicle.
Late Tuesday, Musk shared an image on Instagram showing the circuit board of the car with the message: “Made on Earth by humans.”
The social media post had over one million likes since it was posted.
–with files from Agence France-Presse