About a week ago, the 18th Space Control Squadron, US Air Force, relayed warning data to the European Space Agency.
The data indicated that there was a non-negligible collision risk between ESA's Aeolus satellite and Starlink44, an active SpaceX satellite, at 11:02 UTC on Monday, 2 September.
As days passed, the probability of collision continued to increase, and by Wednesday, August 28, ESA's Ops team decided to reach out to Starlink to discuss their options. Within a day, the Starlink team informed ESA that they had no plan to take action at that point. By Thursday evening, ESA's probability threshold for conducting an avoidance manoeuvre had been reached, and preparations were made to lift Aeolus 350 meter in orbit. By Sunday evening, chances of a collision had risen to 1 in 1000, and commands were sent to the Aeolus satellite, which triggered a total of 3 thruster burns on Monday morning, half an orbit before the potential collision. About half an hour after the collision prediction time, Aeolus contacted base, and normal measurement operations could continue.
What the SpaceX satellite was doing in ESA's Aeolus orbit is not clear.
ESA has taken the opportunity to point out that, given SpaceX plans to put up 20,000 of those things, handling monitoring and avoidance semi-manually, and by mail, is no longer practical.
SpaceX has asked the International Telecommunication Union to arrange spectrum for 30,000 additional Starlink satellites. SpaceX, which is already planning the world's largest low-Earth-orbit broadband constellation by far, filed paperwork in recent weeks for up to 30,000 additional Starlink satellites on top of the 12,000 already approved by the U.S. Federal Communications Commission.
The FCC, on SpaceX's behalf, submitted 20 filings to the ITU for 1,500 satellites apiece in various low Earth orbits, an ITU official confirmed Oct. 15 to SpaceNews.
[...] In its filings, SpaceX said the additional 30,000 satellites would operate in low Earth orbit at altitudes ranging from 328 kilometers to 580 kilometers.
[...] It is not guaranteed that, by submitting numerous filings, SpaceX will build and launch 30,000 more satellites. Tim Farrar, a telecom analyst critical of SpaceX, tweeted that he was doubtful the ITU will be able to review such big filings in a timely manner. He sees the 20 separate filings as a SpaceX effort to "drown the ITU in studies" while proceeding with its constellation.
Nothing a Starship can't launch.
Previously: FCC Authorizes SpaceX to Provide Broadband Satellite Services
SpaceX Seeks Approval for 1 Million Starlink Ground Stations, Faces Pentagon Audit
FCC Approves SpaceX Lowering Orbit of Internet Satellites
Related: SpaceX Valued at $25 Billion... and More
SpaceX Starlink Satellite Prototypes Include Packed, Flexible Solar Arrays
SpaceX to Launch 60 Starlink Satellites at Once, and More
SpaceX Satellites Pose New Headache for Astronomers
Most of SpaceX's Starlink Internet Satellites are Already on Track
Three of SpaceX's Starlink Satellites have Failed
Near Collision Between ESA and SpaceX Satellite