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Tags: Russians | space | satellite killer | launch | soviet | era

Report: Russians May Have Relaunched Soviet-Era 'Satellite Killer'

Tuesday, 18 November 2014 12:01 PM EST

A mysterious satellite launched by Russia six months ago is confounding American space experts — but they are speculating that the "satellite killer" is back.

During the Cold War in the 1960s, 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 1980s, it was thought that Russia had abandoned the project. But now, with an unidentified flying object careening around space, there are suggestions that the Russians are up to their old tricks.

In May, Russia deployed a rocket with several satellites aimed at expanding its systems in space, including what was at first believed to be a piece of space junk called Object 2014-28E.

Russia did not disclose the mystery satellite’s orbit, so American experts and amateur space sleuths have been keeping a close eye on its movements, which bizarrely concluded with the object recently linking up again with the rocket stage that originally launched it, according to the Post.

"I have no idea what it is," space security expert Patricia Lewis of the think-tank Chatham House told the Post.

"This satellite could be used as some sort of anti-satellite weapon. Or it could be that you use this to cyberjam the satellites to grill them and take control of them, and that way you just leave the satellite dead."

The satellite could be space debris, a spacecraft aimed at clearing space junk, a search-and-rescue mission — or it could be something far more sinister from the Russians, the experts told the Post.

The hit TV science-fiction series "Star Trek" called space "the final frontier," and the militarization of space could be just that as the cold war with Russia heats up again following the Russian invasion of Ukraine’s Crimea territory.

Modern technology, including cellphones, map services, television shows, and various communication services, depend on satellites. And the destruction of such satellites could destroy the ability of the United States to operate its military and create a communications nightmare.

"There’s always confusion with these sort 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 has kept track of the satellite from the launch.

He told the Post that the technology could be used in a "benign or peaceful" way, but it can have "many other uses."

"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 [other] satellite."

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A mysterious satellite launched by Russia six months ago is confounding American space experts — but they are speculating that the "satellite killer" is back.
Russians, space, satellite killer, launch, soviet, era
Tuesday, 18 November 2014 12:01 PM
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