Near-collisions in space: China raises allegations against SpaceX

China has accused the US of irresponsibility because two satellites from the US space company SpaceX are said to have come dangerously close to the Chinese space station “Tiangong”.

The space station had to change course in July and October because a Starlink satellite from Elon Musk’s company was on a collision course, according to a spokesman for the Beijing Foreign Ministry on Tuesday.

China has already lodged a complaint with the United Nations. Applicable space treaties have been violated. The US side must take immediate action to prevent such incidents from happening again and to protect the lives of astronauts in orbit. During both incidents, Chinese astronauts were in the space station, which is why emergency measures were taken to avoid collisions.

SpaceX and US automaker Tesla, also founded by billionaire Elon Musk, came under pressure after reports of the incidents on Chinese social media. Many users vented their anger about the near-collisions. Calls for boycotts against Tesla and SpaceX were also spread.

The US State Department did not want to comment on the allegations. The US had encouraged all countries with space programs to act responsibly, the spokesman for the ministry, Ned Price, said on Tuesday. He couldn’t say anything more specific.

The construction of the Chinese space station “Tiangong” (Heavenly Palace) began this year. The station, which so far only consists of the “Tianhe” (Heavenly Harmony) module, is due to be completed in 2022.



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