NASA astronaut Don Pettit, working on board the International Space Station, commanded the Canadarm2 robotic arm to release SpaceX's Dragon spacecraft at 4:49 a.m. CDT (0949 GMT) on Thursday (May 31). The ungrapple marked beginning the private capsule's return to Earth following its historic accomplishments as the first mission by a commercial company to resupply the orbiting laboratory.
The Dragon is returning to planet with approximately 1,300 pounds of science experiments, hardware and cargo.
The spacecraft will fire its thrusters three times to move out of the vicinity of the station, at which point SpaceX's flight control team in Hawthorne, Calif., will run the free flying capsule through about five hours of orbital operations culminating in a deorbit burn at 9:51 a.m. CDT (1451 GMT).
The 9 minute, 50 second burn will set up Dragon to splashdown in the Pacific Ocean at 10:44 a.m. CDT (1544 GMT) for recovery off the coast of Baja, Calif.