The two close encounters between SpaceX's Starlink satellites and China's space station have sparked heated debate in space regulation. Here are the facts behind the incidents and why close encounters in space can be deadly. On July 1, 2021, a SpaceX Starlink satellite almost crashed into China's space station, forcing China's Shenzhou-12 crew to carry out an emergency avoidance maneuver to dodge it. In less than four months, on October 21, it happened again – only that time, the two spacecraft came even closer. The incident occurred merely four days after China's Shenzhou-13 crew boarded the space station. But the two incidents only came to light recently, after China filed a complaint to the UN's space agency, stating SpaceX's irresponsible act endangered the lives of astronauts aboard China's space station and violated the UN's outer space treaty.

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