Collision risk: China files official UN complaint against US’ space etiquette
China has filed an official complaint with the United Nations regarding the US’ space etiquette.
Two near collisions involving SpaceX’s Starlink Internet Services and the China Space Station on July 1 and October 21 prompted the filing.
China’s foreign minister urged the US to act responsibly, after it accused it of ignoring its obligations to outer space treaties and putting astronauts in danger.
The China Space Station had to undertake an “evasive manoeuvre” to avoid collision with one of Starlink’s satellites.
“As the satellite was continuously manoeuvring, the manoeuvre strategy was unknown and orbital errors were hard to be assessed, there was thus a collision risk between the Starlink-2305 satellite and the China Space Station,” the Permanent Mission of China to the United Nations said.
China’s state-backed Global Times reported that Elon Musk’s SpaceX could be “trying to test China’s capability and response awareness in space”.
The US directed similar calls to China earlier this year, after space debris from an anti-satellite missile reportedly risked colliding with the International Space Station.
Nasa and Russia’s space agency Roscosmos used the station’s thrusters to dodge the debris – as space faring nations look to tackle the issue of ‘space junk’.
A large portion of the debris cloud is expected to stay in orbit for decades, threatening the space station, other spacecraft and the increasing number of satellites being hurled into orbit.
As well as threatening satellite damage, which could cost space agencies and companies millions, the ‘neglected’ issue could impact satellite navigation use, with nearly 90,000 pieces of debris in total orbiting Earth.