China Criticizes US After ‘Close Calls’ with Elon Musk’s Spacecraft

Beijing charged the United States with reckless and risky activity in orbit, following two “near misses” involving the Chinese space shuttle and satellites owned by Elon Musk’s SpaceX.

According to a notice sent by Beijing to the United Nations aerospace authority this month, China’s latest spacecraft, Tiangong, had to move to avoid colliding with one Starlink spacecraft in July and another in October.

The report indicated the instances represented hazards to the lives or health of astronauts onboard the China Space Shuttle.

Lives of Astronauts

China’s foreign ministry spokesperson, Zhao Lijian, stated at a regular briefing on Tuesday the US defies its commitments under multilateral obligations, presenting a severe risk to the lives and welfare of astronauts.

Starlink, a branch of SpaceX, maintains a network of close to 2,000 satellites to deliver internet connectivity to most places on Earth. SpaceX is a private American business, autonomous of the US military and commercial space industry, NASA.

China stated in its response to the UN that signatories of the Outer Space Treaty (the cornerstone of advanced space law) are likewise liable for activities by their non-government companies.

Briefing reporters, US State Department spokesperson Ned Price declined to reply explicitly to the Chinese charges.

According to Price, they advised all nations with space projects to be ethical actors and avoid conduct that could endanger astronauts, crew members, those circling the Earth, or those with the capability to do so.

SpaceX has not replied to a request for clarification. 

Evasive maneuvers to limit the chance of accidents in space are growing more common as more objects enter Earth’s orbit, stated Jonathan McDowell of the Harvard-Smithsonian Institute for Astrophysics.

He told AFP they’ve mainly observed a rise in the number of comparative approaches since Starlink began getting implemented. McDowell noted any impact would likely utterly smash the Chinese spacecraft and annihilate everybody on board.

The role of maintaining China’s outpost Tiangong—meaning heavenly grandeur—reached orbit in 2021; it is anticipated to become fully functional this year.

Prepared to Blacklist Tesla

Beijing’s protest over Starlink spurred condemnation on Chinese social media of SpaceX’s billionaire creator, Elon Musk. One hashtag on the Twitter-like Weibo site clocked nearly 90 million views on Tuesday.

One person said it is odd that Chinese people buy Tesla, paying significant quantities of money so Musk may construct Starlink. Then, he almost smashes into China’s spaceship.

Musk’s electric car business, Tesla, sells thousands and thousands of automobiles in China each month. Still, the firm’s image has taken a knock this year, following a sequence of mishaps, controversies, and data security worries.

“Ready to boycott Tesla,” wrote another Weibo member, echoing a frequent reaction in China to international firms believed to be behaving adversely to national interests.