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SpaceX Starlink satellites over Turkey in May. Photo: Burhan Ates/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

China, in a report filed to the United Nations earlier this month, accused SpaceX of endangering the country's new space station and taikonauts on board through close encounters with at least two of the company's Starlink internet satellites.

Why it matters: China also accused the U.S. of failing to meet its obligations under the Outer Space Treaty and said it isn't doing enough to ensure that the California-based company complies.

China said a Starlink satellite had a close encounter with its space station on July 1 and the station conducted an evasive maneuver to avoid a collision.

  • It said another close encounter happened on Oct. 21 with a separate Starlink satellite.

What they're saying: "The U.S., while talking about the concept of responsible outer space behavior, is in practice ignoring its obligations under the treaty," Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian said at a press briefing Tuesday, according to Bloomberg.

  • SpaceX has not publicly commented on the complaint, which was officially filed to the UN Office for Outer Space Affairs.

The big picture: SpaceX is attempting to expand internet access around the world through its Starlink Constellation, which is designed to use thousands of relatively low-cost satellites.

  • Since the project's conception, astronomers and regulators have been concerned that the satellites could contribute to the growing problem of space junk.
  • China is developing its own satellite constellation project called "StarNet" through a state-owned company. It plans to launch 10,000 satellites in the next five to 10 years, Axios' Margaret Harding McGill reports.
  • Earlier this year, debris from a Russian anti-satellite weapons test endangered astronauts and cosmonauts onboard the International Space Station.

Go deeper: Moon, Mars and asteroid missions top 2022 space goals

Go deeper

Jan 12, 2022 - World

China hosts string of Gulf officials in sign of growing influence

Wang Yi (right) greets Faisal bin Farhan on Jan. 10. Photo: Ji Chunpeng/Xinhua via Getty

The foreign ministers of Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Oman and Bahrain and the secretary-general of the Gulf Cooperation Council are all visiting China this week for talks on boosting trade and security cooperation.

Why it matters: The flurry of visits by Gulf officials is part of China’s push for deeper involvement in the Middle East. For Beijing, the Gulf in particular is key to its energy supply and increasingly to its geopolitical influence.

Updated 18 mins ago - Politics & Policy

Omicron dashboard

Illustration: Brendan Lynch/Axios

  1. Health: Pfizer and Moderna boosters overwhelmingly prevent Omicron hospitalizations, CDC finds — Omicron pushes COVID deaths toward 2,000 per day — The pandemic-proof health care giant.
  2. Vaccines: The case for Operation Warp Speed 2.0 — Starbucks drops worker vaccine or test requirement after SCOTUS ruling — Kids' COVID vaccination rates are particularly low in rural America.
  3. Politics: Biden concedes U.S. should have done more testing — Arizona says it "will not be intimidated" by Biden on anti-mask school policies.
  4. World: American Airlines flight to London forced to turn around over mask dispute — WHO: COVID health emergency could end this year — Greece imposes vaccine mandate for people 60 and older — Austria approves COVID vaccine mandate for adults.
  5. Variant tracker
Updated 1 hour ago - Economy & Business

Janet Yellen co-opts Reaganomics phrase for new Davos speech

Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen at a speech this week. Photo: Alex Wong/Getty Images

The U.S. needs to focus on increasing its productive potential, Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen told world leaders Friday, calling for what she terms "modern supply side economics."

Why it matters: She co-opted a phrase traditionally used by political conservatives to describe low-tax and deregulatory policies — and framed the Biden administration's initiatives as the best path forward to achieve greater national prosperity.