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SpaceX wins NASA contract to build deorbit vehicle for space station destruction

Elon Musk’s SpaceX has been awarded an $843 million contract by NASA to design and build the ‘U.S. Deorbit Vehicle’ which will bring the International Space Station’s reign in space to an end in 2030. 

The SpaceX spacecraft’s mission will be to deorbit the space station from its location, ensuring that the procedure poses no risks to any populated areas on Earth. 

It is expected that both the International Space Station and the deorbit vehicle will “destructively breakup” as part of the re-entry process into the Earth’s atmosphere. 

“Selecting a U.S. 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. This decision also supports NASA’s plans for future commercial destinations and allows for the continued use of space near Earth,” said Ken Bowersox, Associate Administrator for Space Operations Mission Directorate at NASA Headquarters in Washington.  

Bowersox added: “The orbital laboratory remains a blueprint for science, exploration, and partnerships in space for the benefit of all.” 

In a statement on X (formally known as Twitter) following the announcement on June 26, 2024, SpaceX said it was “honored to be entrusted by @NASA to support this critical mission”.  

While SpaceX will develop the deorbit spacecraft, NASA will take ownership after development and operate it throughout its mission.   

The International Space Station (ISS) will eventually be replaced by commercially owned space destinations closer to home. 

Since 1998, space agencies from Europe, Russia, Japan, Canada, and the United States (US) have all managed the ISS and all five are responsible for ensuring it is safely deorbited.  

ISS crew members conduct experiments across multiple disciplines of research, including Earth and space science, biology, human physiology, physical sciences, and technology demonstrations not possible on Earth.   

The launch service provider for the deorbit vehicle will be decided at a later date following a procurement process.  

The post SpaceX wins NASA contract to build deorbit vehicle for space station destruction appeared first on AeroTime.

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