SpaceX will Destroy International Space Station ISS, Confirms NASA

A $843 million deal

NASA will pay SpaceX $843 million to dispose of the International Space Station. 

Elon Musk’s company was awarded the contract to deorbit the International Space Station within the next decade safely. 

In orbit of Earth since 1998, the ISS is due to come to the end of its operational life in or around 2030.  

Instead of leaving it to partially burn up in Earth’s atmosphere and crash unpredictably on the surface, NASA wants a safe, controlled reentry and splash down for the structure. 

The 900,000-pound (400,000 kg) ISS is one of many larger structures too massive to burn up during reentry into the Earth’s atmosphere. The USDV is expected to take several years to develop and test. 

ISS is Too Big To Burn? 

According to the contract terms, SpaceX will develop and deliver a spacecraft called the “U.S. Deorbit Vehicle” to bring the ISS back to Earth without risk to populated areas. 

A Deorbit vehicle

As it stands, NASA, Canada’s CSA, Japan’s JAXA and the European Space Agency have committed to operating the ISS through 2030, while Russia’s Roscosmos will use it until at least 2028. 

The ISS will ultimately be guided to an area of the Pacific Ocean known as the “spacecraft cemetery.”  

Pacific Ocean is "Spacecraft Cemetery" 

An uninhabited area between New Zealand and South America, the ocean floor here is home to over 263 spacecraft, including many capsules, cargo craft and rockets used to reach the ISS. 

New Generation Space Stations 

Removing the ISS from low-Earth orbit will encourage the private space industry to construct orbiting space stations that both private and space agency astronauts can use. 

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