NASA and SpaceX Set to Crash ISS into Ocean: A $843 Million Mission to End an Era !

NASA Awards SpaceX Contract

NASA has awarded SpaceX an $843 million contract to develop a spacecraft designed to safely deorbit the International Space Station (ISS) around 2030. SpaceX will construct the vehicle, but NASA will manage its operation and take ownership once it’s completed.

Deorbit Vehicle Plans

According to NASA’s plans, SpaceX’s deorbit vehicle will guide the ISS back to Earth after its operational life ends in 2030. The ISS will re-enter Earth’s atmosphere at over 17,000 mph (27,500 km/h) before landing in a designated ocean crashdown site.

History and International

CollaborationLaunched in 1998, the ISS has hosted astronauts from the U.S., Japan, Russia, Canada, and Europe since 2000, facilitating over 3,300 scientific experiments. However, the station is aging, with increasing technical issues and leaks. The agreements among the five participating space agencies will expire by 2030.

Size and Operational Plans

Weighing approximately 430,000 kilograms (950,000 pounds), the ISS is the largest structure built in space, representing international collaboration. While operations are planned until 2030 for the U.S. and its partners, Russia’s involvement is set to end in 2028.

Space Debris Threats

The ISS faces risks from space debris, including defunct satellites. On June 27, ISS astronauts had to take shelter in the docked Boeing Starliner capsule due to debris from a shattered Russian satellite. They returned to normal operations after about an hour. The exact timeline for deorbiting the ISS remains unclear, but new stations like Axiom Space’s Axiom Station and Blue Origin and Sierra Space’s Orbital Reef are expected to be operational by the decade’s end

Shared Responsibility

NASA has stated that the safe deorbit of the ISS is a collective responsibility of all five space agencies, though the specific financial or technical contributions of each remain unspecified. The ISS’s planned descent will not be the first of its kind; Russia’s Mir space station was similarly deorbited in 2001, with its remnants falling into the Pacific Ocean.

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