NASA awards multi-million dollar contract to SpaceX to deorbit the International Space Station

NASA has awarded SpaceX an $843 million contract to build the vehicle that will lift the International Space Station out of Earth orbit when its operational life ends in a few years.

SpaceX, a private company controlled by tech mogul Elon Musk, will build the vehicle that will orbit the space station, but NASA will continue to oversee the eventual mission.

The International Space Station, launched in 1998, is expected to be deorbited in 2030. The station is managed by space agencies from the United States, Europe, Japan, Canada and Russia. All the countries involved have committed to operating the station until 2030 except Russia, which has only committed to participating until 2028.

The space station has received astronauts since 2000.

“The orbital laboratory continues to be a model for science, exploration and partnerships in space for the benefit of all,” said Ken Bowersox, NASA associate administrator for space operations mission directorate.

The contract is another vote of confidence in the technological prowess of SpaceX, a Hawthorne, California-based rocket maker that Musk founded in 2002 to explore new frontiers in space. Musk, 52, later became the driving force behind Tesla, the electric car maker that accounts for most of his estimated $220 billion fortune.