SpaceX wouldn't move its satellite despite European collision warning

SpaceX wouldn't move its satellite despite European collision warning

In a series of tweets, the agency explained that it had calculated that its Aeolus satellite was at risk of colliding with SpaceX's Starlink satellite constellation, and made a decision to implement an emergency maneuver to avoid an accident.

The 60 satellites launched are the first of almost 12,000 satellites that SpaceX plans to put into orbit around the provide satellite-based internet service to underserved regions across the globe.

A European Earth-observation satellite performed an evasive maneuver yesterday (Sept. 2) to make sure it didn't collide with one of SpaceX's recently launched internet craft.

"The manoeuvre took place about 1/2 an orbit before the potential collision".

One unconfirmed report says that SpaceX "refused" to alter the course of its satellites. "The vast majority of ESA avoidance maneuvers are the result of dead satellites or fragments from previous collisions".

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ESA took action after learning from the US military that the probability of a collision was 1 in 1,000 - 10 times higher than ESA's threshold for conducting a collision-avoidance maneuver - Forbes reported yesterday.

The last-minute manoeuvre occurred after space detritus experts discovered there was a high risk of collision between the two active satellites. A satellite constellation is a collection of small satellites clustered together. The ESA further pointed out that such manoeuvres are time-consuming and involve determining the future orbital positions of all functioning spacecraft and calculating the risk of collision based on that. Amazon's Jeff Bezos is also pushing to provide internet access around the globe via thousands of satellites in low Earth orbit under Project Kuiper.

When there is such a high degree of danger, it will become almost impossible for engineers to spot potential collisions and move satellites out of danger. "ESA is preparing to automate this process using #AI #ArtificialIntelligence". The Starlink team last exchanged emails with Aeolus' handlers on August 28, when the collision risk was in the 1-in-50,000 range, SpaceX representatives told Krag further went on to say that after SpaceX refused to take action, the ESA chose to react.

He added: "It was at least clear who had to react".