|A SpaceX Dragon cargo capsule is seen at the end of the International Space Station's robotic arm, with the bright Earth in the background, in this view from a station camera on March 26, 2013 during undocking activities.
Credit: NASA TV
A private SpaceX cargo capsule undocked from the International Space Station early Tuesday to begin the trip back to Earth after three weeks linked to the orbiting laboratory.
The unmanned Dragon space capsule was released from the space station today (March 26) at 6:56 a.m. EDT (1056 GMT), and is expected to splash down in the Pacific Ocean, about 214 miles (344 kilometers) off the coast of Baja California, at 12:34 p.m. EST (1634 GMT). The Dragon capsule is expected to fire its thrusters at 11:42 a.m. EDT (1542 GMT) to leave orbit.
"Sad to see the Dragon go, " NASA astronaut Tom Marshburn said from inside the station. "She performed her job beautifully, now heading back to her lair."
Dragon is returning to Earth with about 2, 670 pounds (1, 210 kg) of cargo, including a set of LEGO toys that have been on the station for the last two years. The equipment will be returned to NASA as soon as recovery teams return the Dragon capsule to dry land.
The spacecraft launched toward the space station atop a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket on March 1 from the firm's launch pad at the Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida to deliver about 1, 200 pounds (1, 210 kilograms) of equipment, supplies and scientific experiments. [Photos: SpaceX Dragon's Space Station Cargo Flight]
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