Experts on Soviet-era military space programs fear that Object 2014-28E is the legendary satellite killer, designed to unleash satellites capable of attacking and destroying other satellites in space. A mysterious satellite launched by Russia six months ago is confounding American space experts but they are speculating that the Satellite killer is back.
Originally believed to be stray space junk the object may actually be a (top-secret) war satellite that marks a covert bid by Vladimir Putin to win military control of outer space observers of the Russian space program now fear.
The object, labeled by observers as Object 2014-28E went up on a rocket sent into outer space in a cluster by Russia earlier this year, carrying three new satellites. The strange space object did not seem to fit in with the other three military communications satellites on board, which originally led the United States authorities at NORAD (the North American Aerospace Defense Command) to label the object nothing more than a piece of debris, the type commonly seen in space launches.
Then the object started moving around executing what appeared to be deliberate, guided movements in ways uncharacteristic for inert trash, and it rang alarm bells last weekend when it appeared to rendezvous with a piece of the rocket that originally launched it.
According to Financial Times, Russia did not announce the launch of the space object , and has not issued any comment acknowledging its existence, facts which have raised further suspicions about the Russians satellite’s true purpose.
There is still no official comment from Moscow to date. Although the Russian media has lately been full of stories about a new generation of Russian satellites and ambitious plans to revive the once-mighty Soviet space program, there has been no mention of an undeclared highly maneuverable satellite as part of Russia’s currently operating space inventory.
Given the vast reliance of the United States and Europe on modern satellite technology including cellphones, GPS map services, television shows and various dependent communication services with many other crucial functions in civilian and military spheres; a killer satellite taking out other satellite’s creates an immeasurable appearing catastrophe especially with America’s Space program shut-down.
Experts are not positive that the Russian space object is actually a new version of the Soviet-era satellite killer. During the Cold War in the 1960’s, the Soviets launched an anti-satellite weaponry program simply called “Istrebitel Sputnikov,” aka the “satellite killer,” according to the Washington Post.
After the collapse of the former Soviet Union during the 1980’s, it was thought that Russia, the United States and other nations had abandoned their satellite killer programs to the back burner. It wasn’t until 2010, the Russian space agency chief, Oleg Ostapenko, announced that Russia was again developing satellites with a “strike” capability.
Now with an unidentified flying object careening around space, there are suggestions that the Russians are up to their old tricks.
Experts quoted by the Financial Times warn against rushing to judgment. Assuming the observations are accurate, the object could have several possible missions, including satellite repair and removing dangerous space junk from orbital corridors. Given the Russian secrecy surrounding the launch and orbital activities they say it could just as easily be something far more sinister from the Russians even a military project.
“This satellite could be used as some sort of anti-satellite weapon that could be used to cyber-jam the satellites to grill them and take control of them so that it just leaves the satellites dead,” according to space security expert Patricia Lewis of the think-tank Chatham House.
Killer satellites can be used to take down functioning satellites, potentially wiping out a large portion of a nation’s [entire communications] system or crippling [military] operations.
China also deploys killer satellites, whose “stated purpose” is to destroy satellites whose decaying orbits make them a danger to the Earth below before those older satellites crash to the surface.
“There’s always confusion with these sorts of things because no one knows exactly what these satellites are up to,” said space expert Robert Christy, a former member of the famed Kettering Group of Astronomers who had kept tract of the satellite from the launch in May. He told the Post that “the technology could be used in a benign or peaceful way but with the Russians, it can also have many other uses.”
Many amateur astronomers, stargazers and no doubt military professionals are asking themselves as they track Object 2014-28E tonight, is that just a piece of space junk debris or is it an orbital predator covertly placed by Putin to militarily conquer outer space, the Final Frontier, for Russia ?