The space race is heating, and this time, SpaceX satellites are the ones reportedly causing the disturbance.
The Chinese government filed a complaint to the United Nations earlier this month, claiming that two SpaceX satellites almost collided with their space station.
The near misses nearly jeopardized the lives of Chinese astronauts aboard their craft.
Chinese Astronauts Had to Take Emergency Measures To Avoid Collisions with SpaceX Satellites
According to the complaint, two Starlink satellites came dangerously close to China’s space station on separate occasions. The first happened in July while the second near-collision occurred in October.
According to Foreign Ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian, Chinese astronauts had to take emergency action to avoid colliding with the SpaceX satellites. At the time, astronauts were conducting missions on the station.
Consequently, Zhao said that the Beijing government informed the United Nations Secretary-General of the near misses on December 3. He then reiterated the agreement among nations in the 1967 Outer Space Treaty.
The treaty stipulated that all countries should respect and protect the safety of astronauts. “The United States keeps proclaiming the so-called concept of responsibility in outer space,” Zhao said.
“But it ignores international treaty obligations and poses a serious threat to the safety of astronauts. This is typical double standards,” he added.
SpaceX Satellites In The Spotlight
According to a presentation to the Federal Communications Commission, SpaceX deployed around 1,800 satellites in space.
Starlink, which is SpaceX’s internet service, offers high-speed wireless internet access across 20 countries. It requires the use of satellites to send and receive data even to remote locations.
The company, led by CEO Elon Musk, plans to expand its coverage by adding 30,000 more satellites in space.
However, scientists are already raising the alarm about the risks of collisions in space. They called on world governments to share data about the approximately 30,000 satellites and debris orbiting the planet.
With SpaceX, other space companies, and space agencies making more frequent trips to space, the skies are slowly filling up with space debris and satellites.
The space race between the US and China is similarly heating up. US laws prevent China from working with the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA).
As a result, China aggressively developed its own space program. The country began construction of its own space station and expects to complete the structure by 2022.
Elon Musk Targeted By Social Media Users
With the near-miss reports involving SpaceX satellites, CEO Elon Musk became a likely target for Chinese social media users. In fact, criticisms surfaced on China’s Weibo, a microblogging site similar to Twitter.
One user described SpaceX satellites as “just a pile of space junk”. Another user accused SpaceX of launching “American space warfare weapons” and that Musk himself is a US government weapon.
Another user warned others about Starlink saying that Starlink’s links are slowly coming to the surface. As a result, “the whole human race will pay for their business activities.”
Meanwhile, Space Exploration Technologies Corp., the formal name for SpaceX, has yet to issue a comment about the near misses with the Chinese space station.
Meanwhile, NASA postponed a planned spacewalk in November. In particular, the agency shuttered the plan over concerns about space debris.
Watch the CRUX news video reporting that China is fuming at Elon Musk’s SpaceX satellites over near collisions with its space station:
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