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NASA and SpaceX conclude a spaceflight protection deal

As a component of a deal with NASA, SpaceX has decided to steer all of the Starlink satellites near the International Space Station or even other NASA spaceships in the low Earth orbit. NASA reported on March 18 that it had reached a Space Act Agreement with SpaceX to manage the activities of the International Space Station as well as other NASA spaceships with SpaceX’s increasing fleet of the low-Earth orbit Starlink satellites. According to NASA, the agreement is meant to “establish all parties’ deep involvement in exchanging knowledge to protect and enhance space safety,” according to NASA.

In a report, NASA acting administrator Steve Jurczyk stated, “With commercial firms launching more as well as more satellites, it’s crucial we increase communications, share data, and develop best standards to ensure we all retain a healthy space climate.” SpaceX would use the independent collision avoidance capability of its Starlink satellites to switch them in the case of any close encounters with NASA spacecraft, as per the agreement. According to the deal, this is meant to prevent a circumstance in which both sides attempt to outmaneuver each other.

The arrangement says that “NASA has decided not to maneuver in the case of a possible combination to ensure the parties should not unwittingly maneuver into one another.” “NASA will work under the presumption that the Starlink satellites’ autonomous navigational capabilities will seek to prevent colliding with NASA assets, and also that NASA can retain its intended trajectory until otherwise advised by SpaceX.”

The arrangement sets out NASA’s and SpaceX’s duties and obligations to exchange orbital locations and maneuver strategies. SpaceX needs to contact NASA at least a week before the first Starlink launch so that NASA can assess if the project raises any collision prevention issues. SpaceX has already planned to deploy Starlink satellites into original orbits that are at least five kilometers distant from the International Space Station and other NASA spacecraft. In general, SpaceX can prevent “any notifiable conjunctions” with the ISS, which NASA describes as a 50-by-50-by-4-kilometer volume of space based on the station.

The deal, which was obviously written many months earlier, was not clarified in the announcement. According to the deal, SpaceX’s Starlink device has “about 600 properties already in orbit,” a number it surpassed months earlier as it continues to deploy new satellites at breakneck speed. According to figures compiled by spaceflight specialist Jonathan McDowell, SpaceX now has 1,260 Starlink satellites in orbit.

According to NASA spokesman J.D. Harrington, the deal was not caused by a particular event, such as a similar approach by a Starlink satellite to a NASA spacecraft. “NASA and SpaceX technical teams have been together for some time to maintain reliable and accurate communications,” Harrington added. “This partnership emerged from our joint collaboration on human as well as cargo spaceflight communications.”

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