A Russian Military Satellite Appears to Be Stalking a New US Spy Satellite

When a U.S. satellite passed over Russia’s Plesetsk Cosmodrome, a Russian satellite was launched close behind it “with capabilities unknown,” reports the Drive, adding that it’s now “getting suspiciously close…”

Russia has launched satellite 14F150 Nivelir into orbit under a mission dubbed Kosmos-2558, and its current orbital path could soon place it in close proximity to what is reported to be the spy satellite designated USA-326. Unconfirmed rumors that the asset will serve as an ‘inspector’ satellite to covertly spy on nearby spacecraft have begun to circulate online following the launch and would line up with Russia’s known on-orbit anti-satellite weapons capabilities and developments.

Its exact purpose is unknown at present, but it has been described as an “inspector” satellite, a term that is often associated with so-called “killer satellites….” Jonathan McDowell, an astronomer at the Center for Astrophysics, or @planet4589 on Twitter, has noted that Kosmos-2558’s current orbital path will soon place it within 80 km of what is believed to be the USA 326 satellite. For reference, the Center for Astrophysics is a collaborative effort run jointly by the Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory and Harvard College Observatory….

USA-326 was launched in February of this year by a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket out of Vandenberg Space Force Base, its mission designated NROL-87, which is a classified national security operation led by the National Reconnaissance Office (NRO) in partnership with SpaceX. A press release shared by the NRO following the initial launch claimed that NROL-87 was designed, built, and now operated by the NRO to support its “overhead reconnaissance mission,” which is largely centered around protecting national security through the exploitation of space-based intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance.
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