An agreement between SpaceX and NASA to avoid collisions

source: businessinsider

Suppose the agencies active in space already communicate with each other to avoid the worst. In that case, this agreement will strengthen communication and avoid failures as with the European Space Agency.

The Starlink network continues to grow. While its services have entered the beta test phase, SpaceX is very far from sending the number of satellites planned into orbit around our Earth. Indeed, out of the 12,000 planned in the first phase, only a thousand have been deployed so far.

Ultimately, 42,000 satellites should occupy low Earth orbit to provide the service. With such a large number of objects, it becomes essential for the various operators to communicate more effectively and, above all, to set up procedures to define responsibilities. So when there is a risk of collision, everyone knows what to do without wasting time.

Avoid the mistakes of the past.

In 2019, the European Space Agency had to carry out an emergency avoidance maneuver to avoid a collision between one of their satellites and the Starlink network's constellation. If the two agencies are already actively communicating, a bug had forced the ESA to intervene in disaster. If the story ends well, it nevertheless shows the need to strengthen the exchange of information.

This is why, on March 18, 2021, NASA and SpaceX signed an agreement to share information on the position of their spacecraft, prevent them from colliding and determine the responsibilities of each party in the event of a risk.

The nature of the agreement

In short, SpaceX is responsible for the evasive maneuvers. The company will adjust the trajectories of the Starlink satellites using artificial intelligence and, if necessary, by manual intervention. For its part, NASA undertakes not to trigger avoidance without the approval of SpaceX to prevent the two teams from adjusting the trajectories simultaneously and causing an accident.

Also, the US space agency is committed to providing information about its next missions as early as possible so that SpaceX can prepare trajectory adjustments. Finally, NASA insisted that Starlink's launch areas keep a minimum safe distance from the ISS.

Therefore, a collaboration between the various agencies and the increasingly present commercial companies is necessary to avoid future disasters. The conquest of space remains relatively recent in the history of mankind. Still, at the rate of its development, it becomes necessary to put in place regulations in what is done in aviation.