This image provided by NASA-TV shows the SpaceX Dragon commercial cargo craft taken from Canadarm2's video camera as Dragon approaches the International Space Station, Friday, May 25, 2012. In foreground is a portion of Canadarm2. Expedition 31 Flight Engineers Don Pettit and Andre Kuipers will use the Canadarm2 robotic arm to grapple the supply ship Friday morning with the berthing to the Earth-facing side of the station�s Harmony node following. Dragon is scheduled to spend about a week docked with the station before returning to Earth on May 31 for retrieval. (AP Photo/NASA)
CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. (AP) -- The Dragon spacecraft is on its way home.
Early Thursday morning, space station astronauts set the SpaceX capsule loose after a five-day visit.
The world's first commercial supply ship is due to splash down in the Pacific at midday, Eastern Time. It will aim for an area 560 miles southwest of Los Angeles. On board are science samples and old station equipment.
Last week, the California-based SpaceX became the first private company to send a cargo ship to the International Space Station. It's now on the verge of becoming the only supplier to return major items. The government-provided cargo vessels of Russia, Europe and Japan burn up on descent. NASA lost the capability of getting things back when the shuttles were retired last year.