Texan Aerospace Firm Secures $843M to Construct Vehicle for ISS Decommissioning

NASA has granted SpaceX, the space exploration firm controlled by tech entrepreneur Elon Musk, a contract worth $843 million to construct the vehicle that will de-orbit the International Space Station (ISS) when it reaches the end of its operational life in the coming years. Despite the fact that the vehicle will be built by SpaceX, which shifted to Texas earlier this year, NASA will retain control over the subsequent mission.

The ISS, which was launched in 1998, is expected to need de-orbiting by 2030. The station is managed by a consortium of space agencies from five countries: the United States, Europe, Japan, Canada, and Russia. With the exception of Russia, which has committed to staying involved until 2028, all of these nations have pledged to maintain their involvement until 2030. The ISS has been continuously inhabited by crews of astronauts since 2000.

The contract awarded to SpaceX, a California-based rocket manufacturer founded by Musk in 2002, is seen as a testament to the company’s technological prowess. Musk, whose main source of wealth is electric car maker Tesla, is estimated to be worth $220 billion.

In related news, Axiom Space, a Houston-based space tech company, is also a recipient of NASA contracts related to the ISS’s future. Axiom Space is currently constructing the Axiom Station, which received a $140 million grant from NASA. The company is also collaborating with NASA on the development of innovative spacesuits for the next generation of astronauts.

Earlier this year, SpaceX marked a significant milestone with the successful launch of its Starship rocket, which completed its first full test flight, launching and returning to Earth without exploding. This achievement demonstrates SpaceX’s capacity to undertake complex space missions, such as the de-orbiting of the ISS, adding to the company’s growing list of space technology accomplishments.

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