Chinese citizens lashed out against the tech billionaire’s space ambitions on Monday after satellites from Starlink Internet Services, a division of Musk’s SpaceX aerospace company, had two “close encounters” with the Chinese space station. According to a document submitted by China to the UN space agency, the incidents occurred on July 1 and October 21.
In the papers, Beijing complained about how the near-miss incident “constituted dangers to the life or health of astronauts aboard the China Space Station”.
It said: “During this period, Starlink satellites launched by Space Exploration Technologies Corporation (SpaceX) of the United States of America have had two close encounters with the China Space Station.
“For safety reasons, the China Space Station implemented preventive collision avoidance control on 1 July and 21 October 2021, respectively.
“For safety reasons, the China Space Station took the initiative to conduct an evasive manoeuvre in the evening of that day to avoid a potential collision between the two spacecraft.”
China also cited article VI of the Outer Space Treaty, which was signed by all the space-faring nations of the world and forms the basis of international space law.
Article VI stated: “States Parties to the Treaty shall bear international responsibility for national activities in outer space, including the moon and other celestial bodies, whether such activities are carried on by governmental agencies or by non-governmental entities, and for assuring that national activities are carried out in conformity with the provisions set forth in the present Treaty.”
Social media users erupted on Weibo, which is a Chinese alternative to Twitter.
One user described Starlink’s satellites as “just a pile of space junk,” while another accused them of being “American space warfare weapons”.
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In an anti-satellite (ASAT) rocket test last month, the Kremlin fired a missile into space to deliberately blow up a redundant satellite.
However, the debris from the explosion began to hurtle through space towards the ISS, which caused astronauts to take emergency measures.
Because of this debris, NASA also halted its planned activities as astronauts waited for the storm of debris to pass.