SpaceX Starlink satellites responsible for most close orbit encounters

Europe's leading expert on space debris said that SpaceX's Starlink satellites are responsible for most close encounters in orbit.

Published Fri, Aug 20 2021 3:34 AM CDT   |   Updated Sun, Sep 19 2021 8:10 PM CDT

Space junk will increasingly become a larger issue as humans continue to launch more objects into space.

SpaceX Starlink satellites responsible for most close orbit encounters 01 |

One of the main components to reducing the amount of space debris floating around our planet is to ensure that satellites already positioned in orbit don't collide with each other. According to Hugh Lewis, the head of the Astronautics Research Group at the University of Southampton, U.K, SpaceX's Starlink satellites are responsible for half of all encounters between two space crafts.

Lewis also says that Starlink satellites are involved in around 1,600 close encounters per week. A "close encounter" is defined by two spacecrafts passing each other within 0.6 miles. Lewis is also the leading expert on space debris in Europe and said, "I have looked at the data going back to May 2019 when Starlink was first launched to understand the burden of these megaconstellations. Since then, the number of encounters picked up by the Socrates database has more than doubled and now we are in a situation where Starlink accounts for half of all encounters."

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