London: A mysterious object launched by Russia earlier this year has been tracked by the Western space agencies, sparking fears and concerns of a defunct Kremlin project to destroy satellites.
The Object 2014-28E was launched in May on a rocket that carried three other military communications satellites. Russian officials did not declare the launch of this mysterious satellite and experts assumed to be a space junk.
However, over the past few weeks, satellite trackers have watched the Object 2014-28E move into a different orbit and then guide itself towards other Russian space objects.
“Whatever it is, [Object 2014-28E] looks experimental,” Patricia Lewis, research director at the London-based think-tank Chatham House and an expert in space security was quoted as saying in the Financial Times report.
“It could have a number of functions, some civilian and some military. One possibility is that it is 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,” Lewis added.
The US military is now tracking the object under the North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD).
In 2010, commander of Russia's space forces Oleg Ostapenko, who is now head of its space agency, said Russia was again developing "strike" satellites, the report stated.
The country developed its first fighter satellite Istrebitel Sputnik in the early 1960s. But, the programme was officially called off subsequently.
(With Agency inputs)