SpaceX wins contract to bring International Space Station out of orbit

NASA announced Wednesday it has selected Elon Musk’s SpaceX to build the vehicle that will bring the International Space Station out of orbit by 2030, when it’s expected no longer to be operational.

SpaceX won the estimated $843 million contract to “develop and deliver” the U.S. Deorbit Vehicle, which NASA will ultimately own and operate throughout the mission.

NASA said the vehicle’s primary aim is to deorbit the space station without creating any risk to populated areas. The deorbit vehicle and the space station are expected to “destructively breakup” upon reentry, NASA said.

“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,” said Ken Bowersox, associate administrator for NASA’s Space Operations Mission Directorate, in a press release.

“This decision also supports NASA’s plans for future commercial destinations and allows for the continued use of space near Earth,” he added.

The space station, since 1998, has been operated by five space agencies: NASA, the Canadian Space Agency, the European Space Agency, the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency and Russia’s State Space Corporation Roscosmos. The operational life of the space station is expected to end in 2030.

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