SpaceX and NASA team up to deorbit the International Space Station

Deal Score0
Deal Score0

She will have had her time. The ISS, placed in low orbit since 1998 then completed in 2011, is the largest artificial object placed in space. Unfortunately, it is gradually reaching the end of its life, and NASA is now considering what happens next. Thus, the American agency announced this Wednesday that it had selected SpaceX to build a space vehicle capable of pushing the International Space Station back towards the Earth's atmosphere to destroy it after the end of its operation in 2030.

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The maneuver turns out to be particularly technical, since the vehicle whose goal will be to move the ISS must be capable of maneuvering 430,000 kilos (the weight of the ISS) towards the atmosphere, while taking care to avoid any risk for inhabited areas. The objective will therefore be to pass the space station into the atmosphere above an ocean: various pieces could then end up in the sea, if they have not already disintegrated during the maneuver.

A juicy contract

To carry out this operation, NASA is therefore calling on the private company SpaceX, with a contract that could reach $843 million. Several countries have committed to continuing operations of the ISS until 2030: the United States, Japan, Canada, Europe and even Russia (until 2028). Taking the station out of orbit is therefore the responsibility of five space agencies, and remains one of the last joint projects between Moscow and Washington, who are also facing each other in the war in Ukraine.

Faced with the unknown linked to Russian-American relations, NASA has simply decided to take matters directly into its own hands: “will we still have the same relationship to be able to bring down the ISS with the Russians” Bill Nelson, the head of NASA, was able to announce last April. Before concluding: “we need to start building this American out-of-orbit vehicle now, which could bring the station down safely so it doesn't hit anyone or anything“.

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