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NASA Warns of Musk’s Satellite Fleet Risks

The plan of Elon Musk to increase the satellite fleet SpaceX in 30,000 could endanger the International Space Station and hamper efforts to monitor potentially catastrophic asteroid impacts, the POT.

The crowding in low Earth orbits that the satellites would occupy could affect ground systems that warn of possible collisions of interstellar objects. In addition, “the safety of the International Space Station (ISS) and all other NASA assets could be affected” by the rise of space platforms, the agency said in comments filed with the Federal Commission. Communications Commission (FCC).

The FCC is examining SpaceX’s plan for a new generation of satellites. Musk said on Twitter on January 15 that the company had 1,469 active Starlink satellites, with 272 moving into operational orbits.

The concern about a collision is not theoretical. Two SpaceX satellites nearly collided with the Chinese space station last year, one of which came within 4 kilometers. In both cases, the orbiting laboratory performed evasive maneuvers to avoid the Starlink satellites. The close encounters prompted the Chinese government to criticize SpaceX in a Dec. 6 memo to a United Nations committee that oversees operations in space.

With the planned increase, Musk’s Starlinks could appear “in all asteroid survey images taken for planetary defense” by ground-based telescopes, NASA said. That “could have a detrimental effect on our planet’s ability to detect, and possibly redirect, a potentially catastrophic impact.”

SpaceX did not immediately respond to an emailed request for comment.

NASA said SpaceX should show how its satellites can automatically avoid collisions, even as other operators launch large constellations. He also asked SpaceX to work to minimize impacts to observing services.

The International Space Station, which orbits at an average altitude of about 400 kilometers, has already come close to colliding with debris fields created by antisatellite weapons tests by Russia in November and China in 2007.

It is difficult to determine the degree of risk of collision between the ISS and the entire constellation of 30,000 satellites that Musk, the world’s richest person, plans, largely because it is not clear whether they would operate at the same time. Last month, NASA outlined plans to decommission and deorbit the space station by 2031.

Although SpaceX has not publicly set a timeline for launching the full constellation, Bloomberg Intelligence projects that the company won’t hit the 30,000-satellite mark until 2028.

Source: Gestion

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