China Accuses SpaceX Satellites of Endangering Lives of Astronauts [Video]
WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW:
- China claimed that SpaceX’s satellite constellations had two close encounters with its space station.
- China has complained to the UN about the incidents, accusing Elon Musk-owned satellites of endangering the safety of the Chinese astronauts.
- In a letter to the U.N., China said they “implemented preventive collision avoidance control” during the July and October incidents.
China is calling out the U.S. for what it describes as “close encounters” between its space station and Elon Musk’s SpaceX satellites.
In a report issued to the United Nations Office for Outer Space Affairs earlier this month, Beijing claimed that Starlink satellites launched by SpaceX “constituted dangers to the life or health of astronauts aboard the China Space Station” when they flew too close to the space station in two separate incidents this year.
China stated in the letter that they “implemented preventive collision avoidance control” in both cases, which took place in July and October, respectively.
Beijing cited the Outer Space Treaty in its complaint, noting, “States Parties to the Treaty shall immediately inform the other States Parties to the Treaty or the Secretary-General of the United Nations of any phenomena they discover in outer space, including the Moon and other celestial bodies, which could constitute a danger to the life or health of astronauts.”
During a Tuesday briefing, Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian accused the U.S. of ignoring “its obligations under international treaties, posing a serious threat to the lives and safety of astronauts,” per CBS News.
The satellites involved in China’s complaint are part of SpaceX’s Starlink constellation, which includes about 1,900 satellites in total, according to the BBC, and the company has plans to launch “thousands more.”
Starlink, which is working to provide global satellite internet, claims that its satellites “autonomously maneuver to avoid collisions with orbital debris and other spacecraft.”
China’s complaint follows another recent space controversy, in which a Russian missile released debris into space, the effects of which could negatively impact astronauts for years, according to NPR.
The outlet reported in November that an anti-satellite missile tested and launched by Russia spreads hundreds of thousands of pieces of debris into space and temporarily sent astronauts from the International Space Station to shelter.
“Earlier today, the Russian Federation recklessly conducted a destructive satellite test of a direct-ascent anti-satellite missile against one of its own satellites,” U.S. State Department spokesperson Ned Price said at the time.
Price added, “This test will significantly increase the risk to astronauts and cosmonauts on the International Space Station, as well as to other human spaceflight activities.”
Russia denied endangering spacecrafts or astronauts, according to NPR.
Source: Yahoo! News