Elon Musk’s aerospace company, SpaceX, has been entrusted with the critical task of safely deorbiting the International Space Station (ISS) in the coming years. This contract, awarded by NASA, involves the development and construction of a deorbit vehicle designed to facilitate the controlled descent of the ISS from orbit, ensuring it burns up in the atmosphere.

The primary method for deorbiting such a large complex involves decelerating the spacecraft, allowing Earth’s gravity to pull it down. The deorbit vehicle that SpaceX is set to build will play a crucial role in this deceleration process.

Once the ISS is sufficiently slowed, it will undergo a controlled reentry, where most of the structure will burn up upon contact with the atmosphere. Any remaining debris will be directed to splash down in the remote South Pacific Ocean, minimizing the risk to populated areas.

NASA has allocated approximately $843 million (around €790 million) to SpaceX for this ambitious project. The ISS, a collaborative effort among the United States, Europe, Russia, Canada, and Japan, has been a permanent fixture in orbit since 2000. Initially launched in 1998, the space station, comparable in size to a football field, is projected to remain operational until around 2030.

This endeavor marks a significant step in SpaceX’s expanding portfolio, highlighting the company’s growing role in major international space missions.