‘Satellite catcher’ tested by Russia

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Observers report that Russia could be in the middle of tests for a satellite with the ability to chase down other spacecraft that are orbiting. Such a capability could have many useful applications, including disabling or destroying other craft, or to have malfunctioning craft repaired. This mission operated by Russia comes after similar testing this year done by China and the US. Launches of Rodnik prior to the recent one had a payload of three crafts, however this time a fourth item was sent into orbit. The item was classed as debris at first by the US military, however in May of 2014 the UN was told by Russia’s government that four satellites had been launched, not three.

Meanwhile, observers following the satellites had noted the item utilising engines to execute a set of abnormal space manoeuvres that had an effect on its orbit. This technological advance has potential not only for hostile operations, but also holds possible value for civilian satellite service providers, giving them the ability increase the serviceable life of high-value space equipment via on-orbit repairs, re-fuelling or servicing.

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