SpaceX CEO Elon Musk is facing criticism who say satellites from his private space firm could cause an orbital traffic jam. As part of SpaceX’s “Starlink” broadband internet system, the space firm has already launched hundreds of satellites, with plans to launch tens of thousands more. The intense build up prompted international officials to speak up. They say such a plan poses a risk to future competition, but also safety.
However, Musk says there should be no concern. “Space is just extremely enormous, and satellites are very tiny,” the billionaire said in an interview. “This is not some situation where we’re effectively blocking others in any way. We’ve not blocked anyone from doing anything, nor do we expect to.”
‘Starlink’ To Provide Better High-Speed Internet
SpaceX claims the Starlink system will eventually be able to provide cheaper access to high-speed broadband internet. The company has received necessary approval to launch 12,000 satellites into space already. SpaceX plans to launch around 42,000 satellites in total over time as part of it’s Starlink system. This plan has received criticism from several world leaders, pointing out the monopolized approach Musk has taken to the satellite industry.
European Space Agency director-general Josef Aschbacher stated in an interview earlier this month that the commercial space industry is being dominated by Musk at the moment, as other nations struggle to adapt. “You have one person owning half of the active satellites in the world,” Aschbacher said. According to him, Musk is essentially “making the rules” in space, and European nations need to begin taking action to allow for fair competition.
Elon Musk Says SpaceX Satellites Don’t Pose an Issue
It’s not just Europeans that have an issue with Musks’ operation. Earlier this month, China filed an official complaint against SpaceX with the United Nations. The complaint alleges that astronauts on China’s space station were forced to execute special maneuvers to dodge near collisions with SpaceX satellites.
Additionally, Beijing officials say the US is violating space treaty obligations. Officials warned the US to “act responsibly” following the controversy. Still, Musk says it’s not as big of a deal as officials say it is. In an interview, Musk compared SpaceX’s satellite footprint to that of a few thousand cars on Earth. Musk says there’s “room for tens of billions of satellites.”
The billionaire continues to move forward with his space firm’s plans despite criticism. According to Musk, the firm’s investment into the Starlink system could approach $30 billion. The company is set to be reasonable competition for Amazon when it comes to the commercial space race. Amazon plans to launch their own set of satellites into the atmosphere, for a project titled, “Project Kuiper.”