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Iran Press TV

Russian satellite may be able to chase spacecraft: Observers

Iran Press TV

Fri Nov 21, 2014 2:12PM GMT

Russia has launched a satellite that may be capable of chasing down other orbiting spacecraft, following similar trials carried out by the United States and China this year, observers say.

Moscow has launched a satellite that during its mission was able to separate from the upper stage of its rocket and then catch up to it at a later time, observers said.

Amateur observers such as Robert Christy, using publicly available orbital tracking data, noticed in summer Russian spacecraft Kosmos 2499 fire its engines to suddenly change its orbit around the Earth.

On November 9, these maneuvers culminated with a close approach to part of the rocket that originally launched the satellite into orbit.

The spacecraft appears to have got to within a few tens of meters of the inactive Briz-KM rocket stage, according to Christy.

The US Space Tracking Network first classified the Kosmos 2499 as a small piece of space debris.

However, the Russian government registered the object with the United Nations after the maneuvers had been noticed by monitors, Christy said.

Kosmos 2499 was launched on May 23, 2014, as part of a routine mission to update an existing constellation with Rodnik communications satellites.

Experts say such satellite-catching technology may be implemented for a wide variety of uses, including fixing malfunctioning spacecraft, as well as military applications.

The US is reported to have performed similar maneuvers with its satellites at least twice, and China at least in three such occasions in the past four years.


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