Recent media reports suggest that a Russian spacecraft named Kosmos 2542 has been stalking the United States spy satellite USA 245 in the Earth's orbit. The Russian satellite has positioned itself uncomfortably close to an American spy satellite, raising eyebrows in Washington. Amateur satellite spotters have been monitoring the suspicious behaviour of the spacecraft all January and according to them, the Russian spacecraft has placed itself just behind the US spy satellite.
According to reports, the Russian Kosmos 2542 satellite is 150 to 300 kilometres away from USA 245, which is a matter of concern for many analysts in the White House. International media reports say that the Russian Kosmos 2542 was launched in November last year and is now orbiting in the same path as the USA 245. The US spy satellite was launched by the National Reconnaissance Office (NRO), which is an arm of the US military that carries out the surveillance with its vast resource of spy satellites.
However, experts have suggested that the closeness of the Russian spacecraft is not a reason to worry as it will cross the US spy satellite every ten days. Michael Thompson, a satellite and astrodynamics expert in his Twitter post suggested that the most recent close approach took place on January 21, but instead of then drifting away, as usual, Kosmos 2542 performed a series of manoeuvres on the January 20th, 21st, 22nd, and 23rd to match the speed and trajectory of USA 245.
Something to potentially watch: Cosmos 2542, a Russian inspection satellite, has recently synchronized its orbit with USA 245, an NRO KH11.— Michael Thompson (@M_R_Thomp) January 30, 2020
A thread: pic.twitter.com/LqvYiIYBMd
Thompson in his post also said that When Kosmos 2542 was launched, Russian military had said that it was tasked with inspecting other satellites and that only domestic satellites would be inspected, but the only ones in this orbital plane are Kosmos 2523 (a previous inspection satellite), Kosmos 2543 (an earlier deployed sub-satellite), and Resurs-P1 (a commercial remote sensing satellite). However, Thompson also added that this is all circumstantial evidence and that it is making it look like a known Russian inspection satellite is currently inspecting a known US spy satellite.
(With Agency Inputs)