[SatNews] There's an object in space, now classified as a satellite by the U.S., that could be a real killer.
A mysterious Russian object is currently being tracked by space agencies, giving new life to fears about the increase of space weapons. The satellite, dubbed Object 2014-28E, has grabbed the interest of official and amateur satellite-watchers as it is taking a confusing path and its purpose has not been identified, said the Financial Times in their published news story. The satellite can be tracked online. Amateur satellite-trackers have been doing just that and have been watching the path of the satellite. Some believe the satellite could be collecting space junk, helping to clean up the useless satellites that are floating around space. Or, it could be providing fuel or repairs to other satellites. However, others fear that the satellite could be used to destroy enemy satellites.
"Whatever it is, (Object 2014-28E) looks experimental," Patricia Lewis, research director at think-tank Chatham House and an expert in space security, told the Financial Times. "It could have a number of functions, some civilian and some military. One possibility is for some kind of grabber bar. Another would be kinetic pellets which shoot out at another satellite. Or possibly there could be a satellite-to-satellite cyber attack or jamming."
The satellite was launched in May on a rocket that carried three other packages, but the launch of the mysterious satellite was not declared as to its purpose. The initial thought was that the object was space debris, but after performing complex maneuvers, the U.S. re-classified it as a satellite and Russia increased the reported amount of satellites that had been launched on the mission. After some confusing moves between August and October, the satellite moved towards another object last weekend. That could mean that Object 2014-28E has finally intercepted its target and the mission has come to an end, this according to some who are watching the satellite.
Anti-satellite weapons began to be developed in the 1950s. Russia developed its Istrebitel Sputnik (fighter satellite) in the early 1960s — the satellite was designed to fly close to other satellites and then detonate a warhead that would bring destroy its target. Russia officially called off the program, though other anti-satellite weapons have been demonstrated by other countries.