African Leaders Warn Against Satellite Risk Crowding

African Leaders Warn Against Satellite Risk Crowding

African leaders have warned against the dangers of not stopping the ambition of the US billionaire ,Elon Musk, to dominate the new space economy which can lead to satellite risk crowding.

Head of the European Space Agency,ESA, Josef Aschbacher, gave this hint, warning that the lack of co-ordinated action meant the US billionaire was “making the rules” himself.

Josef Aschbacher, the new Director-General of ESA, said that Europe’s readiness to help the rapid expansion of Musk’s Starlink satellite internet service risked hindering the region’s own companies from realising the potential of commercial space.

“Space will be much more restrictive in terms of frequencies and orbital slots,” he said in an interview with the Financial Times.

“The on us is the reality that African government and its space Agencies have not raised any concern about this development.

While drawing the attention of Europe “The governments of Europe collectively should have an interest to  give European providers equal opportunities to play on a fair market.


, African continent us left out if the bargain.

Germany effort
Germany has recently applied to the International Telecommunications Union, which co-ordinates the use of wireless frequencies for carrying data, to grant Starlink spectrum for about 40,000 satellites.

Musk has already won approval for more than 30,000 satellites through US regulators.

Earlier this year, Musk said SpaceX, his private rocket company, was prepared to spend up to $30bn to expand Starlink.

Aschbacher said Musk’s Starlink was already so big that it was difficult for regulators or rivals to catch up.

“You have one person owning half of the active satellites in the world.

That’s quite amazing.

De facto, he is making the rules.

The rest of the world including Europe is just not responding quick enough.

Starlink and the UK government backed OneWeb are leading a rush to create mega-constellations of hundreds and even thousands of satellites in Low Earth Orbit, or LEO, to provide broadband to places hard to reach by cable.

The Chinese government and Amazon’s Project Kuiper both plan to launch their own LEO constellations.

A new generation of space companies, driven by falling launch costs and cheaper satellites, is also aiming to deliver commercial services from LEO such as earth observation.

The rush to tap the potential of commercial space — made possible by falling launch costs and cheaper, smaller satellites — has fuelled concern over the absence of a global space traffic management system for low earth orbit, a region of up to 2,000km above the earth where most new commercial services are targeted.

Last year the Satellite Industry Association estimated there could be more than 100,000 commercial spacecraft in orbit by 2029.

Aschbacher’s concerns were echoed by Franz Fayot, Luxembourg’s economy minister, who said new rules were needed to ensure the safe use of space.

“You have people like Elon Musk, just launching constellations and satellites and throwing Teslas up into orbit.

We need to set common rules.

Colonisation, or just doing things in a completely deregulated space, is a concern,” he said on the sidelines of the New Space conference in Luxembourg.

Starlink did not respond to a request for comment.

Europe’s satellite sector is dominated by traditional operators who rely on a much small number of expensive, high orbit satellites to provide services such as television transmission.

Although the ITU which co-ordinates radio frequencies said there is no overarching of  international authority or regulator controlling the launch of satellites.

One fear is that, as orbits become overcrowded, there is a growing risk of collisions which could generate catastrophic quantities of debris.

Space junk is already a significant hazard.

More satellites deployment
Steve Collar, chief executive of satellite operator SES, said the industry was “heading for a situation where there will be far too many satellites deployed.

A lot of these plans are in direct response to the fact that nobody is properly regulating.

” Luxembourg owns a third of SES voting rights.

Musk, in particular, has come under fire from astronomers and rivals for the pace of his expansion.

Earlier this year his SpaceX rocket company was launching more than 100 satellites every month, with close to 2,000 currently in low earth orbit.

Astronomers worry that huge numbers of satellites will interfere with ground-based telescopes and could “impact the appearance of the night sky for stargazers worldwide,” according to a report by the American Astronomical Society.

Ralph Dinsley, founder of NORSS, which tracks objects in space, said the fact that Musk manufactured his own satellites and could launch them with his SpaceX rocket company meant he could move faster than rivals to occupy the most desirable orbital planes.

“At the speed he is putting these into orbit, he is almost owning those orbital planes, because no one can get in there.

He is creating a Musk sovereignty in space.

The US Interest
Aschbacher said it was clear that US regulators, as part of a national government, were interested in developing not only the economy, but also certain dominance of certain economic sectors, which is happening clearly and strongly.

Financial Times / Qasim Akinreti
African Leaders Warn Against Satellite Risk Crowding

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