Commercial Tracking Software Detects Russian Spy Satellite

The Russians launched their Luch Olymp K-2 satellite back in March as a supposed inspector satellite. However, Slingshot Aerospace, a space data analytics firm, has detected using their tracking software that spacecraft drifted westward from its initial location and lingered by another geostationary spacecraft for a few weeks. This behavior is in line with the first Luch-1 which was determined to be a spy satellite that can listen on communications in 2015. The spacecraft’s movements were flagged by Slingshot Aerospace’s program which uses machine learning and AI to sift through spacecraft tracking data. The unusual maneuver was seen as out of the ordinary for a geostationary satellite and despite Slingshot Aerospace comments on the difficulties of decipher maneuver data in real-time it seems the fears were warranted.

This brings awareness to government and commercial spacecrafts that may in the nearby area that may not want their communications spied on. Due to the nature of Luch-2’s positioning the Space Force’s collision warning system does not alert the system to a nearby spacecraft lurking in the neighborhood. That is why there is an importance in this data collection and awareness system. This also leaves commercial tracking systems such as this vulnerable to cyber-attacks or the system is provided fake data in which the satellite in question could not be flagged.