NASA is investigating a plan to remove the International Space Station from orbit: a trailer in space
NASA has requested a budget from the United States government to carry out the plan for the end of the International Space Station (ISS) at the end of the decade.
In the budget requested from the White House, NASA requests funds to investigate a ship that will function as a ‘space trailer’ to take the ISS out of orbit and begin its destruction.
In total, NASA has requested a budget of $27.2 billion for 2024, $2 billion more than the 2023 budget.
During the press conference on Monday, NASA officials revealed that the agency wants to use about $180 million to “start development” on its space tug plan.
Of course, that would not imply building and deploying it, that would cost much more. In total, it would be worth an estimated $1 billion to build.
The trailer’s plan is that it can take the ISS out of orbit and then let it burn up in a safe area in Earth’s atmosphere known as Point Nemo.
Recall that by the end of the decade, three private space stations are expected to take over for the International Space Station with only NASA paying for their services.
But having a space trailer is secondary. The current plan is to use an existing spacecraft: Russia’s Progress, an expendable cargo ship resupplying the ISS.
Although other spacecraft partners already have deorbit capabilities, the US wants to develop its own plan “to have redundancy.”
That would seem prudent, as diplomatic relations between the US and Russia have soured since the latter’s invasion of Ukraine, putting great pressure on efforts to keep the two nations cooperating in space.