Elon Musk And SpaceX Are Being Paid Close To $1 Billion To Scrap The International Space Station

The International Space Station (ISS) is set to be decommissioned, and NASA has awarded Elon Musk’s SpaceX a significant contract to manage the process. SpaceX will receive $843 million to develop a powerful vehicle capable of safely deorbiting the ISS before it reaches the end of its operational life in 2030, NASA announced on Wednesday.

“NASA announced SpaceX has been selected to develop and deliver the U.S. Deorbit Vehicle that will provide the capability to deorbit the space station and ensure avoidance of risk to populated areas,” the statement said.

This specialized vehicle will attach itself to the ISS and pull it out of its current orbit, approximately 250 miles above Earth’s surface. The initiative follows NASA’s call for proposals from aerospace companies in September, seeking price quotes for the US Deorbit Vehicle (USDV).

In response to the contract award, SpaceX expressed its gratitude on social media. “SpaceX is honored to be entrusted by @NASA to support this critical mission,” the company tweeted on June 26, 2024.

As the ISS nears the end of its service, NASA plans to shift focus to smaller, privately owned space stations located in Low Earth Orbit. “U.S. industry is developing these commercial destinations to begin operations in the late 2020s for both government and private-sector customers,” according to NASA’s website.

Launched in 1998, the ISS is a massive 925,000-pound structure measuring 357 feet end-to-end, nearly the length of a football field. It has been a collaborative effort among five space agencies: NASA, the Canadian Space Agency (CSA), the European Space Agency (ESA), the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA), and Russia’s State Space Corporation Roscosmos.

Despite its approaching retirement, the ISS has made significant contributions to space research, supporting 3,300 experiments that would not have been feasible on Earth. The US, Canada, Japan, and ESA member countries are committed to operating the ISS until 2030, while Russia plans to maintain operations until at least 2028.

SpaceX has been a key commercial partner for NASA, having been selected in 2014 to explore commercial space transport. Both SpaceX and NASA have not immediately responded to requests for comments from Business Insider.

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