In May, SpaceX launched 60 satellites that promised automatic collision avoidance. Over the weekend, Elon Musk’s space company missed a potential collision warning because buggy software did not relay an alert to a human operator.

Thankfully, no collision occurred, but the incident has inspired more debate about the lack of firm rules governing spacecraft in orbit around the earth, and how a new generation of space companies intends to exploit their absence with thousands of new internet satellites.

All satellite activities depend on cooperation: To understand where spacecraft are, their operators use space surveillance data collected by the US Air Force, as well as sharing tracking information amongst themselves. If a collision seems imminent—and in this case, the industry standard for action is about a 1-in-10,000 chance of conjunction—the operators collaborate and decide which satellite should move.

Last week, space surveillance data revealed that one of SpaceX’s 60 Starlink satellites and the European Space Agency’s Aeolus satellite might intersect. The odds of a collision occurring on Sept. 2 were about 1 in 50,00

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