While this was a tough Friday for shares of Tesla (TSLA) - Get Tesla Inc. Report , it's turning out to be an out-of-this-world weekend for Tesla boss Elon Musk. On Saturday, Musk's SpaceX launched its unmanned Falcon 9 rocket and Crew Dragon spacecraft in collaboration with NASA on a mission to the International Space Station.
The takeoff marks SpaceX's first flight with NASA's Commercial Crew Program.
It's also the first flight test of space craft made for people but built and run by a commercial company, said NASA. The mission was essentially a test-run for a planned launch later in the year that will carry NASA astronauts. The Falcon 9 is the two-stage rocket that carries the Dragon spacecraft into orbit. The Dragon will be able to carry up to seven passengers into space.
"What today really represents is a new era in spaceflight. We're looking forward to being one of many customers in a robust commercial marketplace in low-Earth orbit," said NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine in a statement, after the takeoff at 2:49 a.m. ET from Kennedy Space Center in Florida.
Musk, SpaceX's chief executive, said the launch went as expected, but cautioned it's "only partway through the mission."
The company's Crew Dragon is carrying hundreds of pounds of equipment as well as a human-like device called Ripley that will collect data about what astronauts aboard the spacecraft would experience throughout the mission, said NASA.
NASA and SpaceX will use the information that Ripley gathers to prepare for a test flight with people on it slated for July.
Crew Dragon is supposed to dock on the space station by Sunday and return to Earth on March 8.
But news was not as good over at Tesla, which closed down Friday by 7.84% to $294.79. The drop came after worries about near-term profits for the carmaker after it said it would begin rolling out its long-awaited $35,000 Model 3 electric sedan.