Russia’s Luch 2 Expected to Approach Intelsat Bird

Image: Slingshot

Russia’s Luch 2 inspector satellite is stalking its next target—an Intelsat comms sat, Slingshot Aerospace shared on Thursday.

Based on the space situational awareness startup’s predictions, Luch 2 will pass near Intelsat 1002 today if it continues on its expected trajectory in GEO. 

The details: Slingshot picked up on a “large maneuver” conducted by the satellite on June 23. Its global sensor network has confirmed that Luch has slowed down to ~1°/day, and is expected to perform another maneuver to stop near the Intelsat comms bird.  

“The suspected Russian spy satellite has a history of cozying up to communications satellites, and it now appears to be repositioning itself near its next target,” Audrey Schaffer, Slingshot’s VP of strategy and policy, said in a statement.

Luch who? Since its launch in March 2023, Russia’s Luch 2 has been maneuvering around GEO to approach and keep an eye on groups of satellites. According to Slingshot’s data, the satellite has made several “noticeable maneuvers” since its launch, and has approached 10 satellites from providers including Eutelsat, Astra, and SES, in some cases coming as close as ~20 km.

Out of the loop: Slingshot’s machine learning capabilities autonomously flagged that Luch was on the move again, prompting the company to keep a closer eye on the satellite and use software to predict its future moves. 

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