NASA awards SpaceX $843M to develop vehicle to bring International Space Station down safely

NASA awards SpaceX $843M to develop vehicle to bring International Space Station down safely

SpaceX to build deorbit craft for retirement of International Space Station around 2030, NASA announces

By Gizem Nisa Cebi

ISTANBUL (AA) - NASA has awarded SpaceX a $843 million contract to develop a spacecraft specifically designed to push the International Space Station (ISS) out of orbit when it reaches retirement around 2030, the agency announced Wednesday.

"We have selected SpaceX to develop and deliver the US Deorbit Vehicle and prepare for a safe and responsible deorbit of the Space Station after the end of its operational life in 2030," said NASA on X.

This "deorbit vehicle" will ensure a controlled descent of the massive station, avoiding any risk to populated areas on Earth, it said.

"Selecting a US Deorbit Vehicle for the International Space Station will help NASA and its international partners ensure a safe and responsible transition in low-Earth orbit at the end of station operations," said Ken Bowersox, associate administrator for Space Operations Mission Directorate at NASA, in a statement.

It added that having served for 24 years, the station is a collaborative effort among the space agencies of Canada, Europe, Japan, Russia, and the US. While all other partners are committed to its operation until 2030, Russia has indicted they may continue until 2028.

NASA stressed that while much of the ISS is repairable or replaceable in orbit, crucial elements like crewed modules and truss structures have a limited lifespan due to operational wear and tear.

"NASA has concluded that deorbiting the International Space Station using a US-developed deorbit vehicle, with a final target in a remote part of the ocean, is the best option for the station's end of life," the agency said in a recent report.

Looking ahead, NASA intends to transition its activities in low Earth orbit to commercially owned and operated facilities, marking a new chapter in human space exploration.

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