A Russian Surveillance Satellite Seems to Shadow Spy Satellite KH-11

Public intelligence suggests that a Russian investigator satellite has changed its location in space to an orbit pretty close to the US. Surveillance Satellite KH-11. Russia has in orbit many so-called “space equipment inspectors,”  of which America and other authorities alert that the Kremlin might utilize to collect intelligence to disrupt, disable, or kill other satellites.

Michael Thompson, a Purdue University graduate who specialized in astrodynamics, posted on Twitter a comprehensive thread about the Russian Cosmos 2542 Surveillance satellite, published Kosmos 2542, which seems to share its orbit with a U.S. satellite named USA 245. The USA245 is believed to be among the surveillance image collection satellite of the National Reconnaissance Office(KH-11). Russia launched this satellite on 25 November 2019, as shown by Space-Track.org, which provides public space data from the Combined Space Operations Center of the U.S. military and the U.S.-Canadian North American Aerospace Defense Co.

“That’s all actual evidence, but there are many factors that make it seem like a well-known Russian Surveillance satellite is at the moment monitoring an established US spy satellite,” writes Thompson. “There can be no other possible target which looks just as good as this regarding the orbits and geometric viewing if the satellite catalog has been observed quite carefully,” Cosmos 2542 started on January 20, 2020, with a sequence of maneuvers to change its course to align with the “orbital” period of USA 255. As Thompson clarified, the Russian satellite had already circled the earth on a similar plane as its American equivalent, but only once every 11 or 12 days did the two fly next to one another.

A range of 150 to 300 km or 93 to just under 186 and a half miles might not seem  “near,” but it is for bodies circulating the planet in space vacuum, at thousands of kilometers an hour speed. “In addition, the proportional orbit is smartly designed, where Cosmos 2542 may view one part of the KH11 as both satellites appear for the first time to the sunlight.

Ever since its unveiling in November 2019, Cosmos 2542 has participated in further curious activities. On 6 December 2019, Russia reported that a smaller satellite was launched in orbit, identified as Cosmos 2543. Another satellite analyst Nico Janssen found out that the USA 245 had moved its very own orbits at around Dec. 9 and Dec. 10, likely to avoid a conflict with Cosmos 2543. Janssen also noticed that the US Spy satellite had coordinated its orbit with Cosmos 2542.