The world’s richest man, Elon Musk has denied claims that his satellites are taking up too much room in space thereby effectively obstructing the entry of competitors to the satellite industry.
This comes after a claim by the head of the European Space Agency (ESA) that Musk was “making the rules” for the emerging commercial space industry.
It also comes after China complained that its space station was forced to avoid collisions with satellites launched by his Starlink project.
China’s space station had two “close encounters” with Starlink satellites this year, Beijing claimed.
The incidents occurred on 1 July and 21 October, according to a document submitted by China this month to the United Nations Office for Outer Space Affairs.
“For safety reasons, the China Space Station implemented preventive collision avoidance control,” Beijing said in the document published on the agency’s website.
Elon Musk’s space exploration company, SpaceX has already launched almost 1,900 satellites as part of the Starlink network, and plans to deploy thousands more.
Responding to allegations of ‘space hogging’, Musk said space is bug enough for as many satellites as possible.
“Tens of billions of satellites can be accommodated in orbits close to Earth” Musk told the Financial Times.
“Space is just extremely enormous, and satellites are very tiny,” Musk said in the interview.
He the pushed back at suggestions that his Starlink Internet Services project was effectively obstructing the entry of competitors to the satellite industry.
“This is not some situation where we’re effectively blocking others in any way. We’ve not blocked anyone from doing anything, nor do we expect to,” he said.
“A couple of thousand satellites is nothing. It’s like, hey, here’s a couple of thousand of cars on Earth, it’s nothing,” he added.
Space experts have said that much larger distances are needed between spacecraft to avoid collisions.
Scientists have also previously voiced concerns about the risks of collisions in space and called on world governments to share information about the estimated 30,000 satellites and other space debris that are orbiting Earth.