NASA and SpaceX to share data to avoid Starlink satellite collisions

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Over the past couple of months, SpaceX has been ramping its internet-beaming satellites in orbit project called Starlink, with launches happening with increasing frequency. This means there is a lot more SpaceX hardware floating around Earth at the moment with more to come, which as you may know is littered with satellites from a myriad other companies.

In order to avoid collisions, SpaceX and NASA have confirmed that both agencies will share satellite data moving forward.

The agreement (PDF) will see both organisations work to ensure that the extremely expensive tech that they send into space will not collide with one another, as the Starlink project could evolve rapidly in the coming years. This as it has already sent 1 000 satellites into orbit, and while it plans to launch 12 000 under the permission of the FCC, SpaceX is eyeing up as many as 42 000 satellites as part of the Starlink project.

The finer points of the agreement will see NASA and SpaceX communicate more frequently with regard to satellite launches, as well as ensuring that in any-orbit assets to do not impede said launches. It will also ensure that no Starlink hardware is in orbit five kilometres above or blow the International Space Station (ISS).

These kinds of agreements are nothing new, with NASA having similar ones with a number of different companies that assist with sending technology into orbit.

“Society depends on space-based capabilities for global communications, navigation, weather forecasting, and much more. With commercial companies launching more and more satellites, it’s critical we increase communications, exchange data, and establish best practices to ensure we all maintain a safe space environment,” added acting NASA administrator, Steve Jurczyk, in a statement regarding the announcement.

With space debris already a massive problem that we have to contend with, here’s hoping this data sharing agreement stops anymore from appearing.

[Image – Photo by SpaceX on Unsplash]

Robin-Leigh Chetty

Robin-Leigh Chetty

When he's not reviewing the latest smartphones, Robin-Leigh is writing about everything tech-related from IoT and smart cities, to 5G and cloud computing. He's also a keen photographer and dabbles in console games.