Elon Musk's SpaceX to build vehicle to crash Space Station

The contract, valued at up to $843 million, tasks SpaceX with building the United States Deorbit Vehicle (USDV).
Elon Musk's SpaceX to build vehicle to crash Space Station
Jaano Junction

The International Space Station (ISS), a flying laboratory operation for over two decades, is ageing and Nasa is planning to crash it.

The American space agency has selected SpaceX to develop a spacecraft that will safely guide the International Space Station (ISS) out of orbit at the end of its operational life, currently planned for 2030.

The contract, valued at up to $843 million, tasks SpaceX with building the United States Deorbit Vehicle (USDV).

The USDV will play a crucial role in the controlled decommissioning of the ISS, a massive structure about the size of a football field. Once developed, Nasa will take ownership and operate the vehicle to perform the final manoeuvres needed for a controlled reentry over a remote ocean region, likely the South Pacific.

This contract marks a shift from the original plan, which relied on Russian Progress spacecraft to deorbit the station. The change comes amid geopolitical tensions and Nasa's desire for an independent deorbit capability.

The ISS, a symbol of international cooperation in space, has been continuously occupied for over 23 years. While the U.S. and most partners have committed to operations until 2030, Russia has only agreed to participate until 2028.

Nasa Administrator Bill Nelson has emphasized the urgency of funding this project, citing potential emergency scenarios and the need for a safe deorbit solution. The agency considered alternatives such as disassembly or repurposing but concluded that a controlled deorbit is the safest and most viable option.

The USDV contract does not include the launch of the vehicle, which will be procured separately. Nasa will own and operate the spacecraft, unlike its usual approach of procuring services for ISS cargo and crew transportation.

As the ISS approaches the end of its lifespan, Nasa is also supporting the development of commercial space stations to maintain a U.S. presence in low Earth orbit. These efforts aim to facilitate the transition from the ISS while ensuring continued scientific research and commercial activities in space.

Source: India Today

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