About six months ago, Russia launched a rocket carrying several satellites into space. It also deployed what was first thought to be a piece of space debris at the time. That space debris might not be space debris after all.
Fast forward to today and the U.S. military, space officials and even amateur astronomers are tracking the objects’ movement. Dubbed Object 2014-28E, it has recently moved toward other Russian space objects and even approached a portion of the rocket that launched it.
What is it? No one knows for sure. Speculation ranges from the benign to Cold War worries. Is it used to clear space debris? Assist other satellites? Or, to attack other satellites? No one knows.
Maybe Russia is just testing an experimental craft they don’t feel like talking about. Kind of like how the U.S. Air Force has been testing X-37b space planes.
But, with Russia being Russia these days – long distance patrols, flying near countries’ borders, Ukraine, etc. – everyone is assuming the worst.
“Whatever it is, [Object 2014-28E] looks experimental,” Patricia Lewis, research director at think-tank Chatham House, told the Financial Times.
“It could have a number of functions, some civilian and some military. One possibility is for some kind of grabber bar. Another would be kinetic pellets which shoot out at another satellite. Or possibly there could be a satellite-to-satellite cyber attack or jamming.”