NASA is planning ahead for the demise of the International Space Station. Further, they’ve just awarded SpaceX an $843 million contract to build a special spacecraft called the “US Deorbit Vehicle.” This fancy new ship will link up with the space station in 2029 and safely guide it back to Earth by 2030. Why? Well, parts of the station are getting old, with cracks showing up. Plus, NASA wants to pave the way for new commercial space ventures up there. They’re aiming for a smooth transition out of low Earth orbit and into the next era of space exploration. It’s a big project, as the ISS is 450 tons, and the size of a football field. A safe transition and burnup into the oceans is important, and SpaceX clearly has the know-how to do it.

The space agency did consider alternatives to splashing the station.

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