Saturday, July 20, 2024

SpaceX will build the vehicle that will deorbit the International Space Station

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NASA announced that SpaceX has been selected to design and build the Deorbit vehicle for the International Space Station (US Deorbit vehicle). With this selection, SpaceX received a Contract worth $843 million. This spacecraft will be used to return the International Space Station to the atmosphere at the right time, estimated in 2030, and in the right place.

“Selecting an extraorbital vehicle for the International Space Station will help NASA and its international partners ensure a safe and responsible transition to low Earth orbit at the end of station operations. This decision also supports plans for NASA for future commercial destinations and enables continued use of near-Earth space.

Although SpaceX will develop the spacecraft, NASA will own it after development and operate it throughout the mission. The spacecraft, along with the space station, is expected to disintegrate during reentry. Therefore, no pieces will be recovered.

The contract, with a maximum value of $843 million, will not cover the costs of launching this spacecraft, which will be awarded under a future contract. There is currently no information on what type of vehicle SpaceX may be planning, although it seems likely that it will be a Starship derivative.

Return of the International Space Station

To return the International Space Station to the atmosphere, it will be necessary to push it towards a well-thought-out return path, so that the debris that arrives upon collision with the Earth’s surface is limited to a specific area, certainly in the Pacific Ocean. For these reasons, the vehicle in question will be equipped with particularly high-performance propulsion systems.

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The station is designed to be interconnected and relies on the contributions of all partners for its operation. The United States, Japan, Canada, and countries participating in the European Space Agency have committed to operating the station until 2030. Russia has confirmed the operation of the station until at least 2028. The safe exit from the orbit of the International Space Station is a shared responsibility between all five space agencies. Some pieces are currently not expected to separate to remain in orbit.

In its 24th year of continuous manned operations, the space station is a unique science platform where crew members conduct experiments in multiple research disciplines, including Earth and space sciences, biology, human physiology, physical sciences, and demonstration techniques not possible on Earth. .

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