Tesla and SpaceX CEO Elon Musk came under fire after China stated that its space station nearly collided with his Starlink satellites on two occasions.
There were two “close encounters” with the satellites this year, according to China. The satellites are part of Musk’s Starlink Internet Services project which aims to bring internet access to remote areas with phenomenally low prices and high speeds.
The project involves a fleet of flat-paneled broadband satellites flying over the Earth, which then beam down internet coverage to users who can access the service via a compact user terminal.
China reports near-collisions with Starlink satellites
The incidents, which have not been independently verified, are said to have occurred on July 1 and October 21. China has reported the near-collisions to the United Nations Office for Outer Space.
In the public complaint, China stated that “for safety reasons, the China Space Station implemented preventive collision avoidance control” due to the Starlink satellites.
Users on Chinese social media site Weibo lambasted Musk, calling his satellites “a pile of space junk,” according to the BBC.
Others wrote that Musk’s satellites were “American space warfare weapons,” and Musk himself is a “new ‘weapon’ created by the US government and military,” as reported by the BBC.
Nearly 2,000 SpaceX satellites have already been launched as part of Musks’ Starlink network, and the company hopes to send out many more in the future.
The large number of satellites floating in space, which many estimate could total to 30,000, have led to a number of issues in terms of space exploration.
In November, NASA canceled a planned spacewalk from the International Space Station due to concerns over increased debris after Russia blew up one of its own satellites two weeks earlier.
Experts have long warned about the risks of collisions with satellites in space, and have called for stricter regulations on space debris as well as more comprehensive information regarding the objects orbiting our planet.
Elon Musk’s Starlink project in Greece
Starlink has already launched the first part of its associated activities in Greece. A small group of users can already use its internet services. Soon, the Starlink internet hardware will be sent to those who have pre-ordered it.
The newcomer is expected to revolutionize the domestic internet market, since the country currently ranks among the most expensive countries in Europe for internet provision, and a number of remote areas are even either completely cut-off or plagued by low connection speeds.
Starlink’s internet presales in Greece had already been orbiting in full swing by the time that the company’s satellite constellation famously became visible in the night sky in May.
The satellites caused alarm in northern Greece in May as many eye-witnesses recorded what they described as an array of bright UFOs.
The initially unidentified objects were later revealed to be the Starlink internet satellites that were launched on Tuesday from Cape Canaveral in Florida.