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European Space Agency blinks in game of cosmic chicken

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BERLIN — The European Space Agency says it has performed an evasive manoeuvr with one of its satellites after rival SpaceX said it wouldn’t move its own spacecraft out of the way, risking a potentially catastrophic collision.

ESA said Tuesday that it “reached out early to SpaceX and was informed that no manoeuvr was planned for the Starlink satellite before the close approach.”

The agency said the manual manoeuvr Monday didn’t affect operations of the Aeolus satellite , which was launched in August 2018 to measure global wind speeds and directions, thereby improving weather forecasts.

ESA says the advent of so-called mega constellations like Starlink, consisting of hundreds or thousands of satellites, means collision avoidance manoeuvrs will need to be automated in future.

SpaceX didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.

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