Russia's space defense troops spot foreign spying satellites

RIA Novosti/Grigoriy Sisoev
A group of electronic reconnaissance satellites disguised as space junk has been disclosed by Russian aerospace defense troops. The devices were put into orbit to spy specifically on facilities on Russian territory.

“Most recently, experts of the Main Space Intelligence Center disclosed a tyro group of electronic reconnaissance satellites. This satellite constellation is being developed to carry out communications surveillance of the facilities based inside Russian Federation territory," commander of the Space Command, Major-General Oleg Maidanovich, informed Zvezda TV channel.

The developed satellites were disguised as space trash, which is a normal practice, noted the commander.

Major-General was reluctant to report on state affiliation of the exposed space vehicles, saying “So far, there is no need for this.”

Maidanovich said that one of the top priority tasks of the space command is to reveal satellite constellation in development.

RIA Novosti/Grigoriy Sisoev

There are estimated 100,000 objects orbiting our planet and the Main Space Intelligence Center, located in the Moscow Region, constantly monitors some 20,000 of them, Major-General Maidanovich said.

Space objects orbiting Earth are constantly monitored for a reason. Some satellites are capable of remaining on standby for a long time, being considered space junk for years before one day coming to life and beginning to gather intelligence, explained the commander.

The Main Space Intelligence Center has multiple tasks, among them satellite detection and recognition, issuing warnings on foreign reconnaissance satellites passing Russian territory, preventing space collisions, gathering intelligence, cataloging new space objects and tracing deorbiting space vehicles.

The center’s “eyes,” laser-optic and optronic space tracking systems, are deployed in several regions of Russia, from Moscow to the Pacific region and a unique “Okno” (Window) optical tracking facility complex situated in the mountains of central Tajikistan, near the town of Nurek. Okno is capable to monitor objects as far as 40,000 kilometers into space.

Russia’s Space Defense Command, an integral part of the national aerospace defense troops, includes the Titov Main Test and Space Systems Control Center, the Main Center for Missile Attack Warning and the Main Space Intelligence Center.