NASA will spend a billion dollars to flood the ISS

NASA plans to spend a billion dollars to create a special space tug. It will be used for safe descent of the ISS from orbit after the participating countries decide to terminate its operation. 

Tug for flooding the ISS

On March 9, the White House presented a draft of the new NASA budget for 2024. One of the most curious points of the document, which all experts immediately drew attention to, turned out to be related to the project of a space tug designed to deorbit the ISS.

ISS. Photo taken on November 8 by members of the Crew-2 mission. Source: NASA

The first mention of plans to create such a vehicle appeared in one of the NASA documents published in August 2022. But now they have received concrete support. The authors of the draft budget laid out the allocation of 180 million dollars for the creation of a tug. According to the heads of the manned space flight program, Kathy Lueders, this money “gives us a healthy start.”

They will allow work to be carried out on the design of the tug, after which representatives of the American space industry will receive an offer to build it. According to Lueders, the exact cost of creating a tug is still unknown, but according to NASA estimates it will be close to a billion dollars. 

Necessity of a space tug

But why did NASA need a space tug? After the participating countries decide to discontinue the operation of the complex, it will need to be “disposed of”. This is necessary to avoid the risk of falling debris of the 400-ton station over the inhabited area. 

Point Nemo in the Pacific Ocean – this is where the ISS will be flooded in 2031

Until recently, NASA planned to use Russian Progress spacecraft for this purpose. They could change the orbit of the ISS in such a way as to direct its debris to the South Pacific Ocean in the area of the so-called cemetery of space technology.

However, the events of the past years have cast doubt on these plans. Open threats to withdraw from the ISS project, as well as a recent series of leaks from Russian spacecraft, have clearly proved that betting on cooperation with Russia is far from the most reliable strategy. Therefore, NASA decided to develop a backup plan. Having its own space tug will avoid the threat of Russia using the issue of safe flooding of the ISS for any bargaining or blackmail.

According to

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