Monday, July 15, 2024
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Nasa picks Musk’s SpaceX to bring ISS out of orbit to its ‘watery graveyard’: How will it work?

Nasa has awarded Elon Musk‘s company, SpaceX, an $843 million contract to develop a spacecraft that will safely bring the International Space Station (ISS) out of orbit when its operational lifespan ends around 2030.
The privately held company, based in Hawthorne, California, will build the vehicle, but Nasa will take ownership of the craft and oversee the deorbiting mission.
The ISS, a collaborative effort between the United States, Europe, Japan, Canada, and Russia, has been continuously occupied by astronauts since 2000. While most of the partner countries have pledged to operate the station until 2030, Russia has only committed to participate until 2028.
“Selecting a US 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 NASA’s Ken Bowersox in a statement.
The ISS, weighing 430,000 kilograms (950,000 pounds), is the largest single structure ever constructed in space. Based on observations of how other stations like Mir and Skylab disintegrated during atmospheric re-entry, Nasa engineers anticipate the orbital outpost will break up in three stages.
Initially, the massive solar arrays and radiators that maintain the orbital lab’s temperature will detach. Next, individual modules will separate from the truss, the station’s backbone structure.
Lastly, the truss and modules themselves will disintegrate. Although much of the material will vaporize, large pieces are expected to survive.
Consequently, Nasa is targeting an area of the Pacific Ocean known as Point Nemo, one of the world’s most remote locations and the graveyard for satellites and spaceships.

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