Is Russian Mystery Object a Space Weapon?by Mike Wall, Space.com Senior Writer | November 19, 2014 07:01am ET Orbits of debris generated one month after a 2007 Chinese anti-satellite test; the white orbit represents the International Space Station. In May 2014, Russia launched a mystery object that some experts say could be an anti-satellite weapon.Credit: NASA Orbital Debris Program OfficeView full size imageThe orbital maneuvers of a mysterious object Russia launched earlier this year have raised concerns that the satellite may be a space weapon of some sort.The speculation centers on “Object 2014-28E,” which Russia lofted along with three military communications satellites in May. The object was originally thought to be space junk, but satellite trackers have watched it perform a number of interesting maneuvers over the past few weeks, the Financial Times reported Monday Nov. 17.Last weekend, for example, 2014-28E apparently met up with the remnants of a rocket stage that helped the object reach orbit. [The Most Destructive Space Weapons Concepts]As a result, some space analysts wonder if Object 2014-28E could be part of an anti-satellite program — perhaps a revived version of the Cold War-era “Istrebitel Sputnikov” “satellite killer” project, which Russian officials have said was retired when the Soviet Union collapsed in the early 1990s.Military officials have long regarded the ability to destroy or disable another country’s satellites as a key national-security capability. The Soviet Union is not the only nation known to have worked on developing such technology; China destroyed one of its own weather satellites in a 2007 test that spawned a huge cloud of orbital debris, and the United States blew up one of its own defunct spacecraft in 2008.
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