The SpaceX space craft Crew Dragon is shown being built inside a cleanroom at SpaceX headquarters in Hawthorne, California, the United States, August 13, 2018.(REUTERS Photo)
LOS ANGELES, March 8 (Xinhua) -- After a five-day mission, American spacecraft Crew Dragon undocked from the International Space Station (ISS) early on Friday, and is scheduled to return to earth hours later.
The spacecraft of U.S. private spaceflight company SpaceX undocked from the ISS at 2:32 a.m. Eastern Time (0732 GMT). It slowly maneuvered away from ISS into an orbital track that will return it to earth, according to NASA.
The spacecraft's de-orbit burn is scheduled at 7:53 a.m. Eastern Time (1253 GMT) following five hours of free flight. After that, the Crew Dragon will parachute to a splashdown in the Atlantic Ocean at around 8:45 a.m. Eastern Time (1345 GMT).
Before the undocking, ISS crew members closed and locked the Dragon's hatch on Thursday afternoon.
Crew Dragon, designed to fly astronauts to the ISS, was rocketed into orbit last Saturday morning for its maiden unmanned flight. It successfully docked with the space station on Sunday, and remained docked for five days before departing on Friday.
The first commercial crew vehicle is bringing back to earth over 330 pounds (about 136 kg) of science gear, crew supplies and station hardware, according to NASA. It delivered almost 450 pounds (about 204 kg) of materials to resupply the station crew on last Saturday.
The capsule carried to the ISS a test dummy Ripley, named after the heroine from the "Alien" movies, which was outfitted with sensors to provide data about potential effects on future astronauts who will travel in the Crew Dragon.
Once the spacecraft is safely home, an immense amount of work will commence to analyze all the data gathered during this test flight.
The demonstration mission, called Demo-1, is the first flight test of a space system designed for humans built and operated by a U.S. commercial company through a public-private partnership.
The mission also marks a significant step forward to the return of launching astronauts to the space station on a U.S.-built spacecraft from U.S. soil since 2011.