WASHINGTON, Oct. 22 (Xinhua) -- The privately-owned cargo ship Cygnus left the International Space Station on Tuesday morning after a successful demonstration cargo resupply mission, U.S. space agency NASA said.
Operated by U.S. space company Orbital Sciences Corp., the spacecraft, which had been attached to the space station since Sept. 29, was released by astronauts aboard the station using the orbiting complex's huge robotic arm at 7:31 a.m. EDT (1131 GMT).
On Wednesday, the Cygnus, loaded "with trash and discarded items," will fire its engines for the last time at 1:41 p.m. (1741 GMT) and "re-enter the Earth's atmosphere for a fiery destruction" over the Pacific Ocean, NASA said.
NASA Administrator Charles Bolden described in a statement the demonstration mission as "an overwhelming success."
"We are delighted to now have two American companies able to resupply the station," Bolden said.
"Orbital's success today is helping make NASA's future exploration to farther destinations possible," he added.
Cygnus was launched to the space station on Sept. 18 on a demonstration mission of proving its capability to reliably deliver cargo, only carrying 1,300 pounds (589 kg) of food, clothing and other items.
Orbital is the second U.S. company to send a commercial cargo craft to the space station. Following a successful demonstration mission, the company is poised to begin regular resupply missions.
California-based SpaceX is the first company to send its own cargo ship with two successful commercial resupply missions and two demonstration missions.