Right of Way in Orbit?

SpaceX Refused To Move A Starlink Satellite At Risk Of Collision With A European Satellite

The European Space Agency (ESA) says one of its satellites was forced to avoid a satellite from SpaceX’s Starlink constellation, raising concerns about the impact of Starlink on low Earth orbit operations, after SpaceX refused to move their satellite out of the way.

At 11.02 A.M. today, Monday, September 2, ESA’s Aeolus Earth observation satellite had to use its thrusters to move itself out of a potential collision with a Starlink space internet satellite dubbed “Starlink 44”. The incident took place 320 kilometers above Earth as the two orbital paths of the two vehicles intercepted each other. Aeolus returned to its operational orbit after the maneuver.

According to Holger Krag, head of the Space Debris Office at ESA, the risk of collision between the two satellites was 1 in 1,000 – ten times higher than the threshold that requires a collision avoidance maneuver. However, despite Aeolus occupying this region of space nine months before Starlink 44, SpaceX declined to move their satellite after the two were alerted to the impact risk by the U.S. military, who monitor space traffic.

Continue reading at Forbes.com

 

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