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Satellite Fleets Risk Collisions in Space, Former NASA Head Says

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(Bloomberg) -- Thousands of communications satellites proposed by dozens of companies pose a risk of ruinous collisions in space, a former chief of the U.S. space agency said Thursday.

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“The U.S. government and governments around the world are failing to properly manage collision risk,” former NASA administrator Jim Bridenstine said in testimony to the Senate Commerce Committee.

“The challenge is that we are beginning an era of large, multi-satellite constellations” with collision-avoidance rules premised on few spacecraft, Bridenstine said. Satellites could be destroyed by collisions “devastating not only satellite communications, but also human spaceflight, national security, weather prediction” and more, Bridenstine said.

Bridenstine didn’t name a specific company.

Elon Musk’s Space Exploration Technologies Corp. is a space leader, having launched at least 1,700 of its Starlink broadband satellites with plans for thousands more. Amazon.com Inc.’s Kuiper Systems plans 3,236 communications satellites. London-based OneWeb is building a fleet of 648 satellites.

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