A US satellite used to capture images of Earth is being followed by a pair of Russian satellites, the commander of the Space Force said.
- A US satellite used to spy on other countries is being followed by a pair of Russian satellites, the commander of the US Space Force said.
- Gen. John Raymond, the Space Force chief of space operations, said the Russian spacecraft had come within 100 miles of the American satellite.
- The move is "unusual and disturbing," and the US has inquired about it with Moscow, Raymond said, adding that it "has the potential to create a dangerous situation in space."
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Russian spacecraft are trailing a US satellite used to spy on other countries, according to the commander of the US Space Force.
"This is unusual and disturbing behavior and has the potential to create a dangerous situation in space," Gen. John Raymond, the Space Force chief of space operations, said in a statement to Business Insider. "The United States finds these recent activities to be concerning and do not reflect the behavior of a responsible spacefaring nation."
The two Russian satellites have come within 100 miles of the US satellite, and the US has raised concerns about the matter to Moscow through diplomatic channels, Raymond told Time magazine's W.J. Hennigan, who first reported the story on Monday.
In November, Russia launched "a satellite that subsequently released a second satellite," and the pair have been behaving similarly to a set that Russia previously labeled "inspector satellites," Raymond said.
He said "in any other domain," such a move "would be interpreted as potentially threatening behavior."
The Russian Embassy in Washington, DC, did not respond to a request for comment.
The move comes amid political tensions between the two countries, including over election meddling by Russia and tensions related to Ukraine and Syria.
The Russian satellites' maneuvering was spotted by Michael Thompson, a satellite and spacecraft enthusiast.
"This is all circumstantial evidence, but there are a hell of a lot of circumstances that make it look like a known Russian inspection satellite is currently inspecting a known US spy satellite," Thompson tweeted on January 30.
—Michael Thompson (@M_R_Thomp) January 30, 2020
The Russian Defense Ministry said in December that a maneuver by the satellites — in which one satellite "birthed" another — was an experiment to assess the "technical condition of domestic satellites," according to the Russian news agency TASS.