SpaceX confirmed yesterday that their Dragon capsule successfully departed the International Space Station and successfully splashed down in the Pacific Ocean both on time and on target.

SpaceX said in a tweet:  "Splashdown confirmed of Dragon in the Pacific Ocean at 12:42 pm ET, about 155 miles SW of Long Beach, CA."

The capsule successfully left the International Space Station after being released by its robotic arm operated by astronaut Scott Kelly.  According to NASA, the capsule then "began a series of departure burns and maneuvers to move beyond the 656-foot (200-meter) 'keep out sphere' around the station and begin its return trip to Earth."

The capsule was carrying over 3,100 pounds of cargo and science samples including human research, biology and biotechnology studies, educational activities, and other physical science investigations.  The Drago capsule originally blasted off from Cape Canaveral on April 14, and arrived at the ISS three days later carrying 4,300 pounds of food, supplies, and equipment for the six astronauts currently stationed 260 miles above the Earth.

The science experiments included a worm farm that astronauts grew to see how the lack of gravity helps or hinders development, the results of which will impact calculations on how humans will survive in space.

"Spaceflight-induced health changes, such as decreases in muscle and bone mass, are a major challenge facing our astronauts," said Julie Robinson, NASA's chief scientist for the International Space Station Program Office at NASA's Johnson Space Center in Houston.

"We investigate solutions on the station not only to keep astronauts healthy as the agency considers longer space exploration missions but also to help those on Earth who have limited activity as a result of aging or illness."

This is the sixth of 12 scheduled missions as part of NASA's $1.6 billion contract with SpaceX.  Currently, SpaceX is the only active private space company working with NASA for these missions.  While the Orbital Sciences Corporation also has a contract with the space agency, currently it is out of the running for these missions after an unmanned Antares rocket explosion shortly after liftoff in October destroyed the company's Cygnus raft and 5,000 pounds of cargo and science experiments.

Earlier this month, Space successfully ran a pad abort test for its next generation Dragon V2 craft, which will eventually support manned missions beginning in 2017.  In September, NASA awarded commercial spacecraft contracts totaling $6.8 billion to both Boeing and SpaceX to help them resume manned missions after the mothballing of the Space Shuttle fleet in 2011.  Both companies will complete their spacecraft designs and are set to for six launches.

The next Dragon scheduled to head to the International Space Station is designated CRS-7 and is currently slated to blast off on June 26.