According to Holger Krag, head of the ESA’s Space Debris Office, SpaceX was well aware of this possibility of collusion but remain indifferent.
It seems like the U.S. military observed that there were chances ( 1 in 1,000 ) that one of SpaceX’s Starlink satellites could collide into the ESA’s Aeolus Earth observation satellite, according to Forbes. Moreover, both agencies were informed of the potential collision. However, the ESA’s satellite had been occupying space significantly longer than the Starlink satellite, nine months longer.
Strangely enough, SpaceX allegedly informed the ESA via email that it will not do anything in terms of preventing the collision, for reasons they didn’t get into, however.
Therefore, ESA was ‘forced’ to take action in order to avoid the accident, and performed the avoidance maneuver.
“We are not upset by them saying [they wouldn’t move],” Krag told Forbes. “My concern is how often will we have such events in the future? These are just two satellites. Now they will add several thousand, and they will also be disposed and end up at various altitudes. And there’s no rule or law on how to react, it’s all goodwill.”
As a measure of preventing future collisions, the ESA is looking into using AI. On that note, the agency tweeted that this is “becoming necessary to protect our space infrastructure.”