Russia launched the Kosmos 2499 rocket mission back in May as part of what seemed like just another mission to further develop its constellations of 'Rodnik' communications satellites. Usually three satellites are released during these missions, but this one had a fourth object. The U.S. thought that this strange radar return was just debris, but not so much anymore. According to the BBC, Russia told the UN that the piece of debris in question was actually a fourth satellite, which in itself is nothing too odd, as the US launches classified payloads all the time. Additionally, Russia has been all about surprises lately, so it was seen as just another question thrown on top of a pile of questions. But then satellite observers saw the craft changing its orbit in ways that are far from normal for even spy satellites that usually do anything they can to conserve their finite fuel. On November 9th, this small satellite's odd maneuvers came to a head when it actually approached a piece of the rocket that sent it into space nearly six months earlier, maneuvering within just meters of it. Could this be Russia's answer to technologies that are clearly being developed by the US on multiple levels, including one of the potential missions for the Air Force's shadowy pint-sized space plane, the X-37B? Unofficially termed 'inspector satellites,' these are basically maneuverable space vehicles that can approach other satellites for both passive and potentially active purposes. On the passive side of things, these space drones of sorts can observe the design of a satellite, taking photos and laser measurements of it, and in some cases, they can even listen to the targeted satellites transmissions. On the active side of things, this capability could be used to refuel or even repair other satellites in orbit. Then there are the darker sides of the 'active' mission, with the potential of possibly blinding, jamming or even kinetically destroying enemy satellites during a time of hostilities. The idea of one satellite manipulating, or even 'shooting down' another is nothing new, with the Soviets designing cannons into their Salyut 3 and Almaz orbital platforms during the Cold War. Additionally, multiple anti-satellite satellite systems were also proposed during the Reagan era 'Star Wars' initative. Yet today, almost 25 years since the end of the Cold War, we are finally and quietly facing the stark possibilities of this whole new dimension of warfare. In which, extra-atmospheric drones can potentially take an enemy's most sensitive eyes and ears, as well as their most advanced form of communications, away, seemingly without warning. via That's No Moon! Did Russia Deploy An Experimental Killer Satellite?.
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