The Chinese authorities have submitted a complaint to the United Nations Office for Outer Space Affairs. Beijing claimed that the satellites of Elon Musk's space company Starlink have twice nearly collided with the Chinese space station Tiangong on July 1 and October 21, 2021. As a result, the space station was forced to perform “evasive maneuvers” to avoid a potential collision.

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China’s Central Television published a video of Liu Boming and Tang Hongbo emerging from the airlock as the Earth revolves beneath them. The third crew member, Commander Nie Haisheng, stayed inside.

The document explains that due to the fact that the Starlink satellites were constantly maneuvering according to an unknown strategy, it was difficult for China to assess the potential risks of a collision with the space station. Therefore, the Chinese space station had to perform an evasive manoeuvre.

Chinese citizens have also responded to the incidents with criticism on social media. Thus, some users of the Twitter-like Weibo platform called Starlink satellites “just a pile of space junk” and “American space warfare weapons.”

There are currently 1.9 thousand Starlink satellites in orbit, with a total of 12 thousand to be launched.

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This launch was SpaceX’s 25th of the year, and ninth for the rocket’s first stage. The mission was supposed to be launched earlier, but the launch was postponed due to bad weather conditions.

China began constructing its Tiangong space station in 2021 when it launched the largest of its three modules – Tianhe. China plans to complete the construction of its orbital station by the end of 2022 after four crewed missions.