- On August 1, Russia launched a brand new spy spacecraft, more likely to preserve tabs on an American spy satellite tv for pc.
- The orbits of the 2 spacecraft stay comparatively shut and the Russian model can change orbit as wanted.
- House stalking isn’t new, neither is it restricted to the Russians.
A brand new Russian satellite tv for pc, dubbed Kosmos 2558, took a experience on a Russian Soyuz-2.1v rocket on August 1, apparently destined for all times as a spy satellite tv for pc. Russia despatched the satellite tv for pc into the identical orbital aircraft as USA 326, a categorised American navy satellite tv for pc that launched into low-Earth orbit earlier this 12 months by way of a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket. That’s in all probability not a coincidence, and for sure, the Pentagon is NOT pleased.
In keeping with a February 2 press launch from the U.S. Nationwide Reconnaissance Workplace (NRO), USA 326 is a “nationwide safety payload … designed, constructed, and operated by the NRO to assist its overhead reconnaissance mission.” And it seems to be like Russia desires a better look.
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Consultants consider the brand new Russian satellite tv for pc is supposed to determine a bit extra about USA 326, based mostly on the historical past of any such Russian satellite tv for pc, which has stalked American satellites up to now. After all, the Russians aren’t promoting their intentions, and the USA hasn’t volunteered to share all of the ins and outs of its personal spacecraft with the general public, both.
“Presumably, it has some sort of sensor system that’s optimized to look at different satellites, reasonably than the kind of standard observing satellite tv for pc that’s optimized to take photos of the bottom,” Jonathan McDowell, an astronomer on the Harvard-Smithsonian Middle for Astrophysics, tells Gizmodo. “We don’t know that for positive, we’re simply inferring that from the way it’s behaving.”
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Marco Langbroek, an astrodynamics lecturer at Delft Technical College within the Netherlands, wrote in a weblog publish that the launch of the brand new Russian satellite tv for pc was timed to match USA 326 passing over the Russian spaceport Plesetsk.
“The 2 orbits are very shut,” he tells Gizmodo. “The primary distinction being a comparatively small distinction of some tens of kilometers in orbital altitude. So that may be a very clear indication.”
After all, that is nothing new. Again in 2020, a Russian inspector satellite tv for pc known as Kosmos 2542 synchronized its orbit with an NRO satellite tv for pc known as USA 245. China has additionally despatched up its personal inspector satellites, which the nation says have been used to watch its personal gear in geostationary orbit.
With the American mission spelled out, but nonetheless obscure, perhaps it’s not a shock that this “inspector” satellite tv for pc from Russia would need a peek on the actions of USA 326.
“That’s actually irresponsible conduct,” Gen. James H. Dickinson, commander of U.S. House Command, says in a brand new NBC Information interview. “We see that it’s in an identical orbit to considered one of our high-value belongings for the U.S. authorities.”
Might this be a brand new Chilly Struggle taking off in house?
Editor’s Observe: This story was initially printed on August 4, 2022. We’ve up to date the piece to incorporate new feedback from the Pentagon.
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