Space Exploration Technologies' Dragon capsule, the first privately owned vehicle to reach the International Space Station, was released early Thursday in preparation for a return to Earth at 11:44 a.m. EDT today.
Dragon blasted off May 22 for an ambitious test flight, a trial run before the company, also known as SpaceX, begins regular cargo runs to the station for NASA.
The United States has been without transportation to the station, which flies about 240 miles above Earth, since the space shuttles were retired last summer.
SpaceX has recovered a Dragon capsule before, but the company wasn't taking anything for granted.
"It's still a very challenging phase of flight," SpaceX mission director John Couluris told reporters on Wednesday.
Dragon debuted in December 2010.
NASA has hired a second company, Orbital Sciences Corp., for station resupply flights as well.
"Our plans are to carry out a test launch in the August-September time frame and the demonstration mission – same as what SpaceX impressively just did - in the November-December time frame," Orbital spokesman Barry Beneski wrote in an email to Discovery News.