U.S. military space surveillance systems are watching orbital maneuvers of the Russian military satellite Kosmos-2504, launched from the Plesetsk spaceport in the Arkhangelsk region in March, a U.S. specialized website said with the reference to a U.S. Air Force official.
The satellite has made at least 11 close approaches to the rocket upper stage that released it into orbit, he said.
In his opinion, such maneuvering capability is consistent with, but not necessarily indicative of, an in-orbit anti-satellite weapon.
Kosmos-2504 was put into orbit together with three Gonets-M communications satellites on March 31. A Rokot launch vehicle with a Briz-KM booster unit was used to propel them into space from the Plesetsk spaceport.
Earlier reports said that the United States was closely watching a similar Russian satellite, Kosmos-2499. Former Roscosmos head Oleg Ostapenko said in connection that the small-sized satellites Kosmos-2499 and Kosmos-2491 were not intended to be used for military purposes.
"We are aware of these fairy tales about small maneuvering spacecraft. In fact, Kosmos-2499 and Kosmos-2491 launched in December and May 2014 are absolutely peaceful vehicles," Ostapenko said.
He thus commented on media reports claiming that Russia was testing in orbit a military inspection satellite capable of maneuvering in orbit.
The Roscosmos head said that both satellites were serving the interests of university science. "This is a work initiative executed together with university researchers," Ostapenko said.
He emphasized that Russia was invariably opposed to the deployment of weapons in outer space.
In the words of Ostapenko, "it is absolutely inappropriate" for the media to call these satellites "killer satellites."
He recalled Russia making a special initiative on the non-deployment of weapons in outer space at the UN in November 2014. "That was our initiative," the Roscosmos head said.
He said at the same time that a number of countries, among them the United States, did not back Russia's initiative on the non-deployment of armaments in outer space.
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