31 May 2012

Astronauts release SpaceX capsule

10:43 pm on 31 May 2012

Astronauts aboard the International Space Station have released Space Exploration Technologies' unmanned Dragon cargo capsule, the last milestone for a pioneering commercial test flight.

Dragon is the first privately owned spaceship to reach the space station, a project of 15 nations.

Using the station's robot arm, astronauts detached the capsule from its berthing port and released it as the spacecraft sailed 400km above Earth.

It is scheduled to splash down in the Pacific Ocean, southwest of Los Angeles, at 11.44am (local time) on Thursday, Reuters reports.

SpaceX is one of two firms hired by NASA to fly cargo to the station following the retirement of the space shuttles last year.