Russia’s mystery space object: Satellite killer?

Russia’s mystery space object: Satellite killer?

[Ed. – The former Soviet Union was known to have done considerable work on a spaceborne anti-satellite system in the 1980s.  It’s not far-fetched.  And yes, it’s another thing we have no defense against.]

In May, Russia launched a rocket to add several satellites to its existing constellation. In the process, it deployed what was first believed to be a piece of space debris but has now become a matter of great speculation.

“I have no idea what it is!” space security expert Patricia Lewis of the think-tank Chatham House told The Washington Post in a phone interview.

Few do. Russia did not declare its orbit, and now the U.S. military, space experts and amateur sleuths have been closely tracking its movements, each of which has been deliberate and precise. The unidentified satellite — called Object 2014-28E — recently navigated toward other Russian space objects, its voyage culminating in its recent hookup with the remains of the rocket stage that originally launched it. …

[E]very expert interviewed agreed that such satellites, which the Chinese use as well, may be the latest chapter in the militarization of space — first conceived as something akin to science fiction that has now evolved into subtler cyberwarfare, hinging on debilitating vital satellite systems. Virtually every modern technology — cellphones, map services, television shows and any number of communication services — hinges on satellites. Targeting them could cripple a nation’s abilities to conduct its military or shut down crucial global communication services. …

If the satellite has the capacity to clear debris or perform some search missions, it can also be used for other purposes, Christy said. “This technology could be used in one way, which is really benign or peaceful, but it can have many other uses,” said Christy, who has been monitoring the satellite since the beginning. “If it can get up close to someone else’s satellite or orbit alongside, it can go and bang and destroy the thing. If you can go and do clandestine things, imagine if it was packed with explosives and shrapnel — you could destroy the satellite.”

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