China Angry With Elon Musk Over Space Near-Misses

Says its space station twice had to avert collisions with Starlink satellites
By Evann Gastaldo,  Newser Staff
Posted Dec 28, 2021 3:29 AM CST
Updated Dec 28, 2021 6:48 AM CST
China: SpaceX Satellites Have Almost Collided With Our Space Station
In this image taken with a long exposure, a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket carrying the 32nd batch of Starlink internet satellites arches over the skyline of Cocoa Beach, Fla., Thursday evening, Dec. 2, 2021, after blasting off from Cape Canaveral.   (Malcolm Denemark/Florida Today via AP)

(Newser) – Twice over the past year, China says, its space station has almost been hit by satellites launched by Elon Musk's SpaceX. The country is now calling on the United Nations to get the US to abide by the treaty that regulates outer space, the Guardian reports. In both July and October, the space station was forced to deploy prevention collision avoidance control measures to avert collisions with Starlink satellites, China says in a report to the UN’s Committee on the Peaceful Uses of Outer Space. Whether governmental or non-governmental bodies are carrying out the activities, China argues, the US must "bear international responsibility" for the results. China's complaints have not been independently verified, the BBC reports.

Experts say the increasing amount of debris and satellites in space (nealry 1,900 Starlink satellites have been launched so far) is leading to more collisions, but one points out that China is not innocent in all this. "It is also fair to say that the US space station has several times over the past 10 years had to dodge pieces from the Chinese military anti-satellite test of 2007," he says. "The biggest debris event ever was the Chinese anti-satellite test." Musk, SpaceX, and the US in general were being criticized on China's Weibo social media site following the news of China's complaint breaking, with some referring to the Starlink satellites as "space junk" or even weapons. (Read more Starlink stories.)

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