China says Elon Musk’s company is endangering astronauts.

Space X boss Elon Musk has a big goal in mind: to provide super-fast internet all over the world. For this purpose, so-called Starlink satellites have been launched for several years. Meanwhile, the counter stands at 2000 pieces that are in permanent orbit around the Earth. Much to the dismay of China. Because twice a Starlink satellite from SpaceX has threatened the Chinese space station under construction.

Near Collisions

In a letter to the United Nations, the Chinese complain about the offense. In both July and October, a Starlink satellite is said to have been on a collision course with the Chinese space station. For security reasons, China then initiated an evasive maneuver to avoid a possible collision between the manned space station and the satellite.


China is angry. Because according to them, Elon Musk’s satellites posed a great danger to the astronauts on board the space station.

Chinese space station
China is busy building its own space station; a modular one. That means it consists of different modules that are launched one by one. The various modules connect to each other in orbit around the Earth and should ultimately form a space station that is about 20 meters long. The first step was taken at the end of April with the launch of Tianhe: the first module. Meanwhile, the space station is taking shape. Last June, the first Chinese astronauts were even sent to the station. Meanwhile, Chinese astronauts have regularly traveled to the space station to help make its completion possible.

A spokesman for the Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs reports on the events during a press conference and calls the United States to order. Because according to them, the Americans have a double standard. “The US is a big proponent of ‘responsible behavior in space’,” the spokesperson said. “At the same time, they are ignoring their obligations agreed under the 1967 Outer Space Treaty. They posed a serious threat to the safety of astronauts. Such incidents must be prevented from happening again.”


It is easy to explain that the Chinese spokesperson appeals to the United States – and not just the company of Elon Musk. This is because the aforementioned Space Treaty states that private activities in space are permitted, but that they always fall under the responsibility of the state in which the initiator of the private activity is established. Launch states are thus the responsible party in the event of damage in the air, on Earth or in space. And so China turns to the United States.

Another riot

Incidentally, it is not the first time that countries in space are arguing. Recently there was a riot between the United States and Russia, in which the Americans pointed out to the Russians an irresponsible action. The Russians tested an anti-satellite weapon, in which a missile is specially designed to disable satellites in orbit around the earth. To test the weapon, the Russians fired the missile at one of their own satellites. This not only created more than 1500 traceable (and therefore relatively large) debris, but also hundreds of thousands of pieces of debris that are much smaller and untraceable, but can still cause great damage. “The debris created during this dangerous and irresponsible test will continue to threaten satellites and other space objects vital to the security, economic and scientific interests of all nations for decades to come,” the US Secretary of State said. “In addition, it poses a significant risk to astronauts and cosmonauts aboard the International Space Station.”

Now the Americans themselves are being drawn to an irresponsible action. Incidentally, it is not the first time that a Starlink satellite is heading for another object. In 2019, a Starlink satellite was already on a collision course with an ESA weather satellite, which then corrected the course to avoid the Starlink. In addition, many astronomers are not happy with Musk’s internet satellites; they are concerned about the pollution that these types of satellite constellations cause. The big challenge is therefore to find a balance and keep everyone happy. The companies that operate in low orbit around the earth, astronomers who observe the universe from Earth with powerful telescopes and the astronauts in space. Because their safety must of course be guaranteed at all times.