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NASA is paying Elon Musk's SpaceX $843,000,000 to crash the International Space Station into the ocean

NASA is paying Elon Musk's SpaceX $843,000,000 to crash the International Space Station into the ocean

NASA has reportedly brought in SpaceX to assist when the station is 'retired' from service

NASA has signed on SpaceX to assist with the retirement of the International Space Station (ISS).

The space agency confirmed that Elon Musk's company has been given the contract to design a 'deorbit' vehicle for the station.

This will carry the ISS into a lower orbit when it ceases its operations and is retired from service in 2030.

The main priority of the operation, which will be overseen by Musk's business, is to avoid any risk of the space station posing a threat to any populated areas.

There are many ways to retire a satellite.

Some are allowed to burn up in the atmosphere as they re-enter, meaning they pose no threat.

Others are cast off into deep space.

But a third group is brought back to Earth right in the middle of the Pacific Ocean, as far from any inhabited place as it's possible to be on Earth.

Cosmonauts on board the ISS. (NASA / Handout / via Getty)
Cosmonauts on board the ISS. (NASA / Handout / via Getty)

It's this third option which awaits the ISS, with the retirement seeing it deorbited and crashed into the ocean.

Ken Bowersox is the associate administrator for Space Operations Mission Directorate at NASA Headquarters in Washington.

He said in a statement: “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.

"This decision also supports NASA’s plans for future commercial destinations and allows for the continued use of space near Earth.

He added: “The orbital laboratory remains a blueprint for science, exploration, and partnerships in space for the benefit of all.”

Ever since its launch the ISS has been viewed as a symbol of international co-operation in an increasingly divided and hostile world.

The exterior of the ISS. (Stocktrek Images / Getty)
The exterior of the ISS. (Stocktrek Images / Getty)

Astronauts from all over the globe have visited the station, conducting observations, experiments, and education.

There are even a group of hobbyists who try to radio in to the station as it passes overhead.

The station is set to be retired from service in 2030, bringing its operational life to a close and feeling rather like the end of an era.

As for what comes after the ISS, that's not clear.

Some argue for a successor station, while others highlight the cost of sending humans to space and point out that for science, it is cheaper and easier to send robots.

Of course, if Twitter / X and the Tesla's Cybertruck are anything to go by, NASA could have saved money on destroying the ISS by just selling it to Musk and waiting for it to crash.

Featured Image Credit: Sebastian Kaulitzki/Science Photo Library/Omar Marques/Getty Images

Topics: News, US News, Elon Musk, NASA