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The Dragon space capsule has left the space station and is headed back to Earth. Astronauts aboard the International Space Station released the commercial cargo ship Sunday morning. The California-based SpaceX company will steer its unmanned capsule to a splashdown in the Pacific Ocean on Sunday afternoon, a couple hundred miles off the Baja California coast.
The supply ship is bringing back nearly 2,000 pounds of science experiments and old station equipment. Perhaps the most precious cargo is nearly 500 frozen samples of blood and urine collected by station astronauts for the past year. The Dragon is the only delivery ship capable of returning items, now that NASA's shuttles are retired. SpaceX launched the capsule three weeks ago from Cape Canaveral. It's the second Dragon to return from the space station.
(Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.) Editor's note: The trip to the International Space Station three weeks ago was covered by KOIN. Portland State University had some of its space-research equipment headed to the station on that trip. It is unclear if any of PSU's equipment is now coming back to earth aboard this commercially-owned SpaceX "cargo ship."