Chinese internet users slammed Tesla founder Elon Musk’s space ambitions after China complained that its space station had to take evasive manoeuvres to avoid colliding with satellites launched by Musk’s Starlink programme.
According to a document submitted by China earlier this month to the United Nations Office for Outer Space Affairs (UNOOSA), satellites from Elon Musk’s SpaceX aerospace company, Starlink Internet Services, had two “close encounters” with the Chinese space station on July 1 and October 21, reports BBC.
“A close encounter occurred between the Starlink-1095 satellite and the China Space Station on 1 July 2021. For safety reasons, the China Space Station took the initiative to conduct an evasive manoeuvre in the evening of that day to avoid a potential collision between the two spacecraft,” China said in a document published on the website of the UN space agency.
Musk and the United States were heavily chastised after the complaint was made public on China’s microblogging platform Weibo.
Starlink’s satellites were described as “just a pile of space junk” by one user.
The satellites are “American space warfare weapons” and “Musk is a new ‘weapon’ created by the US government and military”, others said.
Another posted: “The risks of Starlink are being gradually exposed, the whole human race will pay for their business activities.”
SpaceX has already launched nearly 1,900 satellites as part of the Starlink network, and more are on the way.
China launched Tianhe, the largest of the space station’s three modules, in April, and it is expected to be completed by the end of 2022.