The historical Dragon mission is nearing its end. The private spacecraft has just left the ISS. It will land in the Pacific Ocean at 11:44am ET.
After making the historic journey as the first commercial spacecraft to visit the International Space Station, SpaceX's Dragon spacecraft will return to Earth today. Dragon has just undocked from the International Space Station. Watch live on NASA TV.
Dragon is the only spacecraft capable of returning a significant amount of cargo from the space station. The other cargo vehicles serving the space station - from Russia, Japan and the European Space Agency - can carry cargo up but all are destroyed after leaving the station.
While Dragon was attached to the space station, astronauts unloaded 1,146 pounds of cargo including food, other crew provisions and student experiments. They then packed the spacecraft with 1,455 pounds of cargo that will be returned to NASA on Earth including hardware used for experiments, spacewalks and station systems.
Dragon is targeted to land in the Pacific Ocean, a few hundred miles west of Southern California, at approximately 8:44 AM Pacific/11:44 AM Eastern on Thursday, May 31st. The spacecraft returns to Earth like a burning comet, protected from extreme reentry temperatures by its powerful PICA-X heat shield. The landing location is controlled by firing the Draco thrusters during reentry.