The SpaceX Dragon capsule awaits release commands from U. S. astronaut Steve Swanson with assistance from cosmonaut Alexander Skvortsov. NASA TV
Personnel in NASA's Mission Control issued commands seven hours earlier that unberthed the 14 foot long commercial freighter from the station's U.S. segment Harmony module using Canada's 58-foot-long robot arm. More commands extended the robot arm for Dragon's release at 9:26 a.m.
Three separation burns within a dozen minutes pushed Dragon away from a NASA monitored ISS "keep out” zone, returning oversight of the supply mission to controllers at SpaceX's Hawthorne, Calif. control room who set up a 10 minute deorbit burn at 2:12 p.m.
"I'd like to thank everyone who worked this Dragon mission. It went very well. I appreciate that tremendously, " radioed Swanson, who issued the release commands from the ISS Cupola observation deck.
Swanson took command of ISS Expedition 40 on May 13, with the departure of three U.S., Japanese and Russian crew members aboard the Soyuz TMA-11M crew transport.
The departure left the station temporarily staffed by three.
There were no outward signs of the terrestrial tensions between the U.S. and Russia over the annexation of Crimea as Skvortsov joined Swanson for the late stow of Dragon cargos returning to Earth as well as at the robot arm's Cupola control post for the capsule's release.
Dragon's return cargo of crew supplies, station hardware and spacewalk tools included 1, 600 pounds of scientific gear, including a pair of low temperature Glacier freezers with medical specimens and preserved biological samples for a range of crew health, human and plant biology and biotechnology experiments.
One investigation, Antibiotic Effectiveness in Space, returned E. Coli samples as part of a continuing investigation into the aggressive responses of bacteria to weightlessness. Some strains thrive, resisting antibiotics
"We intend to further corroborate these early findings and conduct more in depth genetic assays of the returned samples to get a better understanding of what might be responsible for this outcome, '' said AES-1 principal investigator David Klaus, of BioServe Space Technologies at the University of Colorado in Boulder, in a NASA statement.
NASA's Commercial Orbital Transportation Services: A New Era in Spaceflight - History of International Space Station (ISS) Cargo and Crew, SpaceX, Orbital Sciences, Bigelow
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