Aeolus had to use its thrusters to avoid collusion with a Space X Satellite
Starlink Satellite Avoids Collision With a European Space Agency Satellite
A satellite belonging to the European Space Agency was forced to avoid a satellite from SpaceX’s Starlink Constellation which further raised concerns about the impact of large constellations on low earth orbit.
The incident occurred on Monday, 2nd September at 11; 02 AM. The ESA’s Aeolus Earth observation satellite used its thrusters to dodge a potential collision with the Starlink space internet satellite, the Starlink 44. Both companies were warned of the impending collision by the US military which monitors space.
The incident took place 320km above the earth and the Aeolus returned to its operational orbit after the maneuver. SpaceX refused to move their satellite out of the way. The Aeolus has been in space for over 9 months compared to SpaceX Starlink satellites that were launched mid this year.
The head of the Space Debris Office at the ESA, Holger Krag, said that the risk of collision was 1 in 1000 which is ten times higher than the criteria for a collision-avoidance maneuver.
Maneuvers to avoid active satellites rarely happen, but they are set to increase with the mega-constellations like SpaceX. Many other companies like One Web and Amazon also have constellation programs.