Lhe high-level diplomacy could have crass material repercussions on sales of Tesla, which manufactures its cars in a local “mega factory”. China has indeed shown the muscles and accused, Tuesday, the United States of “serious threat” to the safety of its astronauts after two satellites of billionaire Elon Musk narrowly missed, according to Beijing, to collide with his space station.
According to a document sent at the beginning of December by Beijing to the Office for Outer Space Affairs of the United Nations in Vienna, the Chinese space station Tiangong had to twice, in July and October, to carry out evasive maneuvers in order to prevent “a meeting. With SpaceX gear. The Chinese space agency reacted “to ensure the safety and survival of astronauts in orbit,” the document added.
SpaceX did not comment on this information on Tuesday, which displeased Chinese Internet users. “Prepare to boycott Tesla,” said a user of the Weibo social network, under a hashtag seen more than 87 million times.
A roadster in space
“There’s no shortage of irony: Chinese are buying Tesla, giving Musk money to launch [des satellites] and throws them against the Chinese space station, ”thundered another. A not very amicable finding in the event of a collision, the most unusual not having occurred, the one possible with the red Tesla roadster that Elon Musk had launched into space in February 2018 and which is still spinning in space, according to the whereisroadster.com site.
Beijing accused the United States on Tuesday of “failing to meet its international obligations” in space, without however specifically attacking the richest man in the world. “This constitutes a serious threat to the life and safety of Chinese astronauts”, lambasted, to the press, a spokesperson for diplomacy, Zhao Lijian.
Elon Musk, who has just been voted personality of the year by the American magazine Time, is well known in China for its Tesla electric cars.
China is a crucial market for the multi-billion dollar Canada-US dollar of South African origin. Tesla sells around a quarter of its production domestically and has a mega-factory in Shanghai.
Constellation of satellites
The automaker has, however, been the subject of criticism in recent months following accidents and data protection concerns.
In space, SpaceX launched a constellation of more than 1,500 satellites, Starlink, intended to bring connection to the Internet to the four corners of the globe. This constellation has significantly increased the circulation of objects in space that bothers and worries, and not just the Chinese.
SpaceX breaks record for most satellites launched in one mission
“We have seen an increase in the number of collision risks since the start of the Starlink deployment,” commented AFP Jonathan McDowell, of the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics in the United States.
China launched the main module of its Tiangong space station (the “Heavenly Palace”) this year, which is due to be completed next year. Two crews of three astronauts have followed one another since June.