On Tuesday, Foreign Ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian told reporters that the U.S. had conducted irresponsible behavior in outer space after two satellites operated by Elon Musk’s SpaceX nearly collided with Tiangong, China’s new space station, according to Bloomberg.
Lijian said Beijing sent a letter to the United Nations about Tiangong’s near misses with SpaceX satellites on Jul. 1 and Oct. 29. Beijing spoke with U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres on Dec. 3 about both incidents and how the U.S. wasn’t abiding by its obligations under the Outer Space Treaty.
“The U.S., while talking about the concept of responsible outer space behavior, is in practice ignoring its obligations under the treaty,” Lijian said.
According to the letter submitted to the UN, Tiangong had to maneuver multiple times to avoid colliding with Starlink satellites. The letter said the incidents “constituted dangers to the life or health of astronauts aboard the China Space Station.”
SpaceX has already launched 1,900 Starlink satellites and intends to launch thousands more as it rolls out space internet. Some are concerned that new satellites plus an estimated 30,000 satellites and other space debris orbiting Earth has made outer space much more dangerous.
Last month, about 1,500 pieces of trackable orbital debris and hundreds of thousands of pieces were added to low Earth orbit after the Russians tested an anti-satellite weapon. As a result, the International Space Station had to move out of orbit to prevent a collision of space debris.
As for Chinese netizens, some are not happy about Musk’s reckless behavior in space.
“How ironic that Chinese people buy Tesla, contributing large sums of money so Musk can launch Starlink, and then he (nearly) crashes into China’s space station,” one Weibo user said.
To read China’s rant on Musk’s SpaceX satellites. View the document below.