China has accused the United States of putting astronauts in danger, weeks after complaining to the United Nations about near-collisions in orbit with satellites launched by Elon Musk’s SpaceX.
- Beijing said its space station was forced to take evasive action to avoid collision
- The satellites were both from Starlink Internet Services, a division SpaceX
- SpaceX founder Elon Musk faced backlash on Chinese social media
China’s Foreign Ministry said on Tuesday that the United States ignored obligations under outer space treaties, exposing astronauts to danger.
China’s space station had two “close encounters” with US satellites this year, on July 1 and October 21, according to a document submitted by China earlier this month to the UN’s space agency.
China’s Foreign Ministry spokesperson Zhao Lijian said the space station was forced to take evasive action to avoid a collision.
“The US claims to be a strong advocate for the concept of responsible behaviour in outer space, but it disregarded its treaty obligations and posed a grave threat to the safety of astronauts,” Mr Lijian said in a press conference on Tuesday.
“This is [a] typical double standard.”
The satellites were both from Starlink Internet Services, a division of Elon Musk’s SpaceX aerospace company.
Chinese citizens lashed out online against Mr Musk, despite the popularity of his Tesla electric cars in the country.
One stated on China’s social media platform Weibo that Mr Musk was a new “space weapon” created by the US.
Another said China’s space station was forced to dodge “space junk” in reference to the Starlink satellites.
Others questioned the motives behind the close calls asking: “Was it on purpose?”
“The risks of Starlink are being gradually exposed, the whole human race will pay for their business activities,” posted another user.
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