<img src = "https://media.npr.org/assets/img/2019/04/02/rts2f8fv_sq-aeea9a05d91ef3afbc3b564683a7d4367674896d-s100-c15.jpg" data-original = "https: //media.npr .org / assets / img / 2019/04/02 / rts2f8fv_sq-aeea9a05d91ef3afbc3b564683a7d4367674896d-s100.jpg "class =" img lazyOnLoad "alt =" NASA: Debris from India's Space Satellite Test 19 Raises ,45 plans another 24 launches next year, adding to this already crowded space environment, and in September ESA's Aeolus Earth observation satellite was forced to activate its maneuvering chokes to avoid potential collision with one of the Starlink satellites,
At that time, Holger Krag, ESA's Head of Space Debris, called The Example an example of how "in the absence of traffic rules and communication protocols, collision avoidance depends entirely on the pragmatism of the operators involved. "
But that did not convince Musk, whose ambitious goal is to launch 1,600 satellites into orbit to get truly global coverage for SpaceX's broadband service, with 400 to 800 needed to launch the service, Farar says.
Eventually, the constellation can grow to up to 30,000 satellites, according to SpaceX registration data. In contrast, only about 2,000 satellites currently operate.
Farrar says the project is tied to the bottom of SpaceX. The company is estimated at about $ 30 billion, but its revenue is only a small part of it:
"If it just justifies that estimate, it will have to generate an awful lot more revenue in the future and the only realistic way to do it in the next few It is years to get into the Starlink communications business, "says Farrar.
So SpaceX is moving fast. It plans to launch 60 more satellites soon and soon after. Meanwhile, OneWeb claims to launch more than 30 satellites each month from the next year.
"The scale of these systems is unprecedented, "says Hugh Lewis, an orbital waste expert at the University of Southampton in the United Kingdom who worked as a consultant for OneWeb.
Lewis says all these new satellites could increase the chances of a collision
How big this problem is is unclear, he says, since no one has tried anything like this before. To try to understand, he runs simulations.
"It's a mixed picture," he says. "Unfortunately, we are not getting back a clear message about 'Yes, do it' or 'No, don't do it – it's too dangerous.'"
Clearly, Earth-related space traffic control systems are not ready to deal with this many moons.
The Air Force operates a network of telescopes to track satellites and then feed this data into a computer to search for potential collisions. He shares information about any potential close conversations with satellite operating companies.
Brian Widen, a former Air Force officer who used satellite tracking, says that when he started work in 2004, he used mainframe computers. dates back to the 90s. Today, according to him, the Air Force is still using the same obsolete systems.
Weeden, who is now at the Safe World Foundation, which promotes sustainability in space, says he is not sure if the current system has enough capacity.  "It's probably not a functional minimum to deal with this situation," Weden says. "But this is far from what we should have."
SpaceX and OneWeb claim to take precautions to avoid collisions and orbital debris. Both companies say they will launch their satellites in lower orbit, causing them to quickly enter the earth's atmosphere and burn if they fail after launch. They will only be strengthened at higher altitudes if they work properly.
SpaceX says that the satellites are equipped with an automated collision avoidance system. This system is already in use. Since the first Starlink satellites were launched in May, the company says it has carried out avoidance maneuvers 16 times.