The satellites of the companies OneWeb and SpaceX have evaded dangerous convergence with each other in orbit, representatives of the US Space Force and OneWeb said. This is the first perilous situation of two rival companies that are expanding their broadband networks in space.
Researchers estimated the probability of a collision at 1.3%, with the two satellites approaching 57 meters – dangerous proximity for satellites in orbit. If the satellites collided in orbit, it could cause a catastrophe that would lead to the formation of hundreds of pieces of debris, and their trajectory would change, endangering other devices.
Experts also noted that now there is not a single national or global space organization that would regulate satellite operators so that they take action in connection with potential collisions. Companies only have Space Force urgent alerts to companies that require devices to keep a safe distance from each other.
The companies have an AI-powered automated collision avoidance system, but researchers have found that SpaceX has disabled the system. The US Space Force will investigate why this happened.
SpaceX’s automated satellite collision avoidance system has sparked controversy – scientists say they have no way of knowing how the system will move the Starlink satellite in the event of close proximity. “This problem is not enough to say about an automated system, because sometimes it may not help us,” the researchers noted.