SpaceX' Starlink satellites had almost crashed into China Space Station? Elon Musk gets trolled | Tech News

SpaceX' Starlink satellites had almost crashed into China Space Station? Elon Musk gets trolled

China in a note verbale to the UN revealed that Space X satellites had two close encounters with China Space Station.

| Updated on: Aug 21 2022, 23:03 IST
A SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket carrying the 32nd batch of Starlink internet satellites seen on Dec. 2, 2021, after blasting off from Cape Canaveral (AP)

China in a note verbale to the UN has revealed that Space X satellites had two close encounters with China Space Station in the recent past, a media report said. "Starlink satellites launched by SpaceX had two close encounters with the China Space Station separately on July 1 and October 21," Global Times quoted China's note verbale to the UN dated December 3 as saying. Social media users blasted Musk and his companies over the incident.

Further, Beijing in the note said that it implemented preventive collision avoidance control during the two occasions because the Starlink satellites descended to lower orbits, which could be to enhance satellites' regional communication capacity as the company also planned to launch a batch of satellites into an orbit of around 330 kilometres, reported Global Times. In 2021, Beijing completed five launch missions including the launch of the successful launch into orbit of the Tianhe core module of the China Space Station, said the note.

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The space station is in a stable near-circular orbit at an altitude of around 390 kilometres on an orbital inclination of about 41.5 degrees, it added.

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The issue has emerged weeks after Beijing's note to the UN as reports claim that Chinese citizens have taken to the social media platforms against SpaceX founder Elon Musk with regard to these allegations.

Beijing has said that SpaceX is yet to respond to the incidents that occurred on July 1 and October 21. It also said that no other agency has confirmed the near misser and these close encounters "constituted dangers to the life or health of astronauts aboard the China Space Station," according to CGTN.

Chinese web users blast Musk over space station near-misses

(AFP) Chinese web users slammed billionaire Elon Musk on Tuesday after Beijing said its space station took evasive action to avoid hitting two of his SpaceX satellites, dealing a blow to the tycoon's reputation in a country that has embraced his Tesla electric cars.

China's Tiangong space station was forced to take "preventive collision avoidance control" during two "close encounters" with SpaceX's Starlink satellites in July and October, according to a document submitted to the UN's space agency by Beijing this month.

On both occasions, the satellites moved into orbits that prompted space station operators to change course, the document said.

"The manoeuvre strategy was unknown and orbital errors were hard to be assessed", Beijing said of the satellite involved in the October incident, adding that it took action to "ensure the safety and lives of in-orbit astronauts".

Tiangong -- meaning "heavenly palace" -- is the latest achievement in China's drive to become a major space power, after landing a rover on Mars and sending probes to the Moon.

Its core module entered orbit earlier this year, with the station expected to be fully operational by 2022.

Chinese social media users blasted Musk and his companies over the incident, with one hashtag racking up 87 million views by Tuesday morning.

"How ironic that Chinese people buy Tesla, contributing large sums of money so Musk can launch Starlink, and then he [nearly] crashes into China's space station," one user commented.

"Prepare to boycott Tesla," said another, in a nod to a common response in China to foreign brands perceived to be acting contrary to Beijing's national interests.

Some speculated that Washington would have imposed sanctions if the roles were reversed.

"Why don't we just do what they do?" one wrote.

California-based SpaceX did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Although Musk is widely admired in China, the reputation of Tesla -- which sells tens of thousands of vehicles in the country each month -- has faltered this year following a spate of crashes, scandals and data storage concerns.

But Tesla is still hugely popular and sells around one out of every four of its cars in the country, as well as building a rare wholly-owned factory in Shanghai.

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First Published Date: 28 Dec, 09:20 IST