Friday, October 07, 2022

China says SpaceX satellites nearly collided with its three-member space station

BEIJING ( Associated Press) – China is urging the United States to protect the Chinese space station and its crew of three after Beijing complained that satellites launched by Elon Musk’s SpaceX nearly crashed into the station.

On Tuesday, a Foreign Office spokesman accused Washington of disregarding its treaty obligations to protect the safety of three Tiangong Station crew members following the July 1 and October 21 incidents.

WATCH: SpaceX launches rocket loaded with Christmas gifts and supplies to station

The Tiangong spacecraft performed “evasive maneuvers” to “prevent potential collisions” with Starlink satellites launched by Space Exploration Technologies Corp., according to the government’s complaint to the UN Peaceful Uses of Outer Space Committee on December 6.

The United States must “take immediate action to prevent the recurrence of similar incidents,” said spokesman Zhao Lijian.

Zhao accused Washington of failing to fulfill its obligations to “protect the safety of astronauts” under the 1967 Peaceful Uses of Outer Space Treaty.

The US Embassy in Beijing did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Musk is also chairman of the board of electric vehicle maker Tesla, Inc. In 2019, the company opened its first plant outside the United States in Shanghai.

However, Tiangong is a prestigious project for the ruling Communist Party, so it is unlikely that Beijing will fail even by a large foreign investor in China.

The main Tiangong module was launched in April. His first team returned to Earth in September after a 90-day mission. A second team of two men and one woman arrived on October 16 on a six-month mission.

SpaceX plans to launch about 2,000 Starlink satellites as part of the global internet system to provide internet access in underserved areas. During its 34th and final launch, SpaceX sent 52 satellites into orbit aboard the rocket on December 18.

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