Russia launched an object, which is being identified as “Object 2014-28E,” earlier this year with three military communication satellites. When the launch occurred in May, some questions were raised, when it was noted that Russia did not acknowledge or declare the object as a part of the project or a part of the launch manifest. However, several sources have identified the object making some very unique maneuvers through space, over Earth, which have once again reignited speculation.
Some have said the object or device, might actually be a member, or modern part of the “anti-satellite program,” which existed during the Cold War. The program was dubbed the “Satellite Killer project, and Russian officials had noted that it was retired in the 90s at the end of the Cold War and the collapse of the Soviet Union.
That said, Istrebitel Sputnikov as it’s known in native tongue has one very simple goal: Disable or kill other satellites. Militaries all over the world, including China, the United States, and Russia have all worked on similar projects to this, and some, like China and the United States, have executed such moves to destroy satellites that were either out of use, or a part of a test on such technology.
However, Joan Johnson-Freese noted that ultimately “Any satellite with the capability to maneuver has the potential to be a weapon.” She went on saying, “But does that mean necessarily that all maneuverable satellites are weapons? No.” Which raises an incredibly valid point. There are many reasons Russia would be working on this type of satellite, especially in the tech-space, and many of those possibly are far more reasonable than the expectation that the satellite was launched to be used as a military weapon.
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The United States in 2005 put other countries into a similar state of panic when they launched DART and XSS-11. Neither were launched to be used as weapons, but both had maneuvering capabilities, so it instantly generated fear and speculation. Although the United States immediately dismissed those concerns, it should be noted that given tensions between the United States and Russia it would appear unlikely that Russia will do anything to quell that fear or speculation in the near-future. That though, should not be received as malice or poor intent – when there could be an entirely justifiable reason for the technology.