A mysterious Russian satellite that spent five months parked between two Intelsat satellites left that location in late September and has now cozied up to a third Intelsat satellite.
The Russian satellite, alternatively known as Luch or Olymp, launched in September 2014 and seven months later moved to a position directly between the Intelsat 7 and Intelsat 901 satellites, which are located within half a degree of one another in geostationary orbit 36,000 kilometers above the equator.
But in late September, the satellite moved again, according to an analysis published Oct. 5 by Brian Weeden, technical adviser at the Secure World Foundation.
The satellite has now settled at 24.4 degrees west longitude, right next to the Intelsat 905 satellite at 24.5 degrees west, according to information available on the space tracking website n2yo.com, which republishes Defense Department data.
Kay Sears, president of Intelsat General, the government services arm of satellite operator Intelsat of Luxembourg and McLean, Virginia, has described the satellite’s movements as “irresponsible.”
While the Russian satellite’s mission is not clear, sources said, its maneuvers have been the subject of classified meetings within the Defense Department and captured the attention of lawmakers on Capitol Hill. One U.S. government official said options are being developed for addressing these types of situations.