Is Elon Musk Clogging Space?

Is there enough space in space for Elon Musk’s tens of thousands of satellites? SpaceX founder Elon Musk is planning 42,000 satellites for space, resulting in mass criticism that his company is taking up too much space. 

Musk has rejected the criticism, saying that his network of 42,000 satellites can coexist with others and that they will not dominate slots or radio frequencies. 

The private rocket company aims to become a major telecommunications entity by sending tens of thousands of low-orbiting “Starlink” satellites into space. More than 1,600 have already been launched. He has launched them so quickly that there are now calls for regulation of space. 

Musk has been criticized for single-handedly making the rules in space. The head of the European Space Agency, Josef Aschbacher, said that there needs to be coordinated reaction from the European Union as well as other countries to ensure that Musk’s constellation does not prevent other countries or companies from being able to launch satellites as well. 

The criticism this week followed other criticism from China after there were two near-miss collisions between launching Starlink satellites and the Chinese space station, forcing the space station to maneuver in order to avoid a collision.

China publicly accused the United States of ignoring international treaty obligations. They submitted a document to the United Nations Office for Outer Space Affairs detailing the two incidents. 

Astronomers are also concerned about the quick launch of so many satellites, saying that tens of thousands of satellites will cause unalterable changes to the sky if they remain unregulated. 

Scientists previously voiced concerns as well about the risk of collisions in space. Some have called on governments around the world to share information on the estimated 30,000 satellites currently orbiting Earth. 

Musk has permission from the U.S. government to launch up to 12,000 satellites. Musk does not plan on stopping there, saying in reality he plans to launch at least 42,000. 

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