| CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla.
CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. May 18 The cargo ship
Dragon, owned by California-based company Space Exploration
Technologies, ended its 28-day stay at the International Space
Station on Sunday and headed for a splashdown in the Pacific
Station commander Steven Swanson used a robotic crane to
release the capsule, built and operated by SpaceX, as the
company is known, at 9:26 a.m. EDT/1326 GMT as the two vehicles
soared in orbit 266 miles (428 km) above Earth.
The capsule will return with more than 3,500 pounds (1,586
kg) of science samples for analysis on Earth, along with
equipment no longer needed aboard the space station and
spacesuit components in need of refurbishment.
"Thanks to everybody who worked this Dragon mission. It went
very well," Swanson radioed to flight directors at NASA's
Mission Control Center in Houston after Dragon left the
Dragon arrived at the space station on April 20, Easter
Sunday, with a delivery of supplies and science experiments for
the crew, and a pair of legs for the experimental humanoid robot
aboard that one day may be used in a spacewalk.
The capsule was due to make a parachute descent into the
Pacific shortly after noon EDT, splashing down about 300 miles
west of Mexico's Baja California peninsula.
The mission marked the third of 12 under SpaceX's $1.6
billion contract with NASA for space station cargo runs.
The company also is vying against Boeing and
privately owned Sierra Nevada Corp., for a related NASA project
to develop space taxis to ferry astronauts to and from the space
(Reporting by Irene Klotz; Editing by Steve Gorman)