Elon Musk has denied that his Starlink satellite broadband project takes up too much room in space.
According to the Financial Times, “tens of billions” of satellites can be hosted in orbits close to Earth.
After the president of the European Space Agency (ESA) said that Musk was “setting the rules” for the nascent commercial space industry, he responded.
China complained this week that it had to divert its space station to avoid colliding with Starlink satellites.
“Space is just extremely enormous, and satellites are very tiny,” Musk said in the interview.
Musk denied that his Starlink Internet Services project was essentially preventing competitors from entering the satellite sector, claiming that there is enough of space in Earth’s orbit for satellites.
“This is not some situation where we’re effectively blocking others in any way. We’ve not blocked anyone from doing anything, nor do we expect to,” he said.
“A couple of thousand satellites is nothing. It’s like, hey, here’s a couple of thousand of cars on Earth, it’s nothing,” he added.
ESA Director General Josef Aschbacher cautioned earlier this month that the thousands of communications satellites deployed by Starlink would leave significantly less space for rivals.
Other specialists believe that significantly greater distances between spacecraft are required to prevent collisions than Mr Musk suggests.
Scientists have previously expressed alarm about the dangers of space collisions and urged world governments to exchange information about the estimated 30,000 satellites as well as other space debris orbiting Earth.
Musk made headlines this week after China protested that its space station was compelled to avert collisions with satellites launched by his Starlink project, prompting a social media reaction.
Beijing said that the country’s space station had two “close encounters” with Starlink satellites this year.
According to a document submitted by China this month to the United Nations Office for Outer Space Affairs, the near collisions happened on 1 July and 21 October.
“For safety reasons, the China Space Station implemented preventive collision avoidance control,” Beijing said in the document published on the agency’s website.
The instances that prompted the allegations to the United Nations’ space agency have yet to be independently verified.
China also accused the US of endangering astronauts by failing to follow treaty responsibilities in outer space.
China is asking the US to act responsibly, according to Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Zhao Lijian.
As part of the Starlink network, SpaceX has already launched about 1,900 satellites and aims to launch thousands more.
(Adapted from BBC.com)