back to article Mystery Russian satellite: orbital weapon? Sat gobbler? What?

A Russian spacecraft – conceivably some kind of satellite-nobbling or -gobbling orbital weapons platform – is circling Earth, and Russia isn't saying anything about it. Nobody seems to know what it’s doing up there, nor what it's capable of doing. Kosmos 2499, Object 2014-28E or NORAD 39765, whatever you call it, this strange …

  1. Billa Bong
    Alert

    Panic!

    "Naturally, the tendency is for everyone to start panicking about the Cold War and assuming that the craft is some sort of war satellite or an anti-satellite weapon that’s going to start shooting all of the other sats out of the sky."

    I'm interested - is this the first time that a satalite has gone up without anyone knowing what it's for (or rather not being told what it's for, because let's face it, who really knows what hidden functions relatively benign "communications" satalites have)? Or is just just because it's Russian?

    I must admit though, I saw the title and thought "Goldeneye"...

    Extra wide tinfoil at the ready, captain!

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Panic!

      Or is just just because it's Russian?

      No doubt we and the US have chucked up loads of satellites we don't tell anyone about.

      1. John Sanders
        Boffin

        Re: Panic!

        Yes it is because the aficionados will not notice loads of unidentified objects out there.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Panic!

        No doubt we and the US have chucked up loads of satellites we don't tell anyone about.

        Sure, but we and the US aren't busy invading the Ukraine and then potentially further countries.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Panic!

          "but we and the US aren't busy invading the Ukraine and then potentially further countries."

          Yeah, we just limited ourselves to invading Iraq and Afghanistan. And bombing the crap out of Libya, bits of Pakistan, Syria, etc, etc....

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Panic!

      "or an anti-satellite weapon that’s going to start shooting all of the other sats out of the sky"

      The High Velocity Potato Launcher?

    3. tony2heads

      Re: Panic!

      Tinfoil -ha!

      I'm going for an underground Faraday cage with diesel generator

      http://www.engineeringnews.co.za/print-version/meerkat-telescope-project-south-africa-2014-05-16

    4. This post has been deleted by its author

      1. Billa Bong

        Re: Panic!

        I was thinking this: http://jamesbond.wikia.com/wiki/GoldenEye_Satellite - though I'd forgotten about the Spectre capture rocket which in my mind is a blown up version of a Red Dwarf scutter.

        I've run out of tin foil now. The turkey will be a tad dry this year...

        1. Irony Deficient

          Re: Panic!

          Billa Bong, tin foil isn’t needed for moist turkey. The easiest way to ensure moist turkey is to give it a 24-hour salt water bath (salt to water proportions available upon request), then rinse it off, pat it dry, and cook; no tin foil required. The cooked meat is moist and not oversalted at all.

          1. Bear

            Re: Panic!

            Yes please!! What are the proportions?

            Although I am probably cooking pheasant or goose this year for Christmas, turkey can be for New Years.

            1. Flatpackhamster

              Re: Panic!

              Yes, do goose instead of turkey. Roast goose is the finest roasty bird known to humankind, and is the easiest to cook. 1 - turn oven to high heat. 2 - insert goose in to oven. 3 - drink wine and ignore for 2 hours. 4 - consume, taking particular care to enjoy crunchy delicious goose skin.

              1. dan1980

                Re: Panic!

                Turkey is a dirty, stupid bird. Avoid.

                1. Anonymous Coward
                  Anonymous Coward

                  Re: Panic!

                  "...a dirty, stupid bird. Avoid." reminds me of a girl I once knew, if only someone could have said those words to me at the time.

              2. Bear
                Happy

                Re: Panic!

                Not to forget that goose fat is very very tasty

              3. danbi

                Re: Panic!

                Is it humane to insert the goose alive in the oven?

                1. Flatpackhamster

                  Re: Panic!

                  You need to pluck it first. I'll leave you to judge the cruelty factor of plucking a live goose - and the risks to yourself in doing so.

            2. Irony Deficient

              Re: Panic!

              Bear, start with a completely thawed and thoroughly rinsed fresh turkey. (Kosher and “self-basting” turkeys are pre-salted, so brining them will have no effect.) Dissolve one cup of table salt per US gallon of cold water (9.5 oz per Imperial gallon, 60 g/l); two US gallons (1⅔ Imperial gallons; 7.5 l) of brine typically suffice. (More salt is needed if kosher salt is used rather than table salt; the amount of kosher salt depends upon the manufacturer.) Submerge turkey in the briny deep; ensure that the brine remains below 41 °F (5 °C) for the duration. After a minimum of fourteen hours’ soak, preheat your oven to 400 °F (205 °C); line a large V-rack with heavy-duty tin foil* and use a paring knife to poke a couple of dozen holes in the foil. Put the V-rack in a large roasting pan. Remove the turkey from his bath, rinse him well, and pat him dry inside and out with paper towels. Melt four tablespoons of butter (three Australian tablespoons, 60 ml) and completely brush the turkey’s skin with the butter. Set the turkey on the V-rack with his breast down; roast for 45 minutes, then flip the bird and roast it for an additional 50 to 60 minutes (if the bird is 12 lb to 15 lb [5.5 kg to 6.8 kg]) or 75 minutes (if he’s 15 lb [6.8 kg] to 18 lb [8.2 kg]) with his breast up. Set the turkey onto a carving board and let it rest for 30 minutes before carving.

              If you have a turkey over 18 lb (8.2 kg), the cooking instructions vary; don’t follow the cooking instructions above.

              * — Yes, some foil is used, but not as much as would be needed to wrap the entire bird.

          2. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: Panic!

            > (salt to water proportions available upon request)

            Request hereby issued.

          3. Anonymous Coward
            Coat

            Re: Panic!

            A lot of (frozen) turkeys when being processed are cooled using a strong brine solution, does this make a difference - or are you on about fresh gobblers?

            1. Billa Bong

              Re: Panic!

              Who's have thought that an article about Russian space activities would end up in a topical discussion about the proper way to cook a bird (and which bird too). Thanks to all for a good chuckle and some fresh ideas, which I'll pass on to the head chef of this years glutton-fest.

              1. John 62

                Re: Panic!

                Turkey is not dirty. Stupid when alive, maybe, but roast it is delicious. And a cheap alternative to chicken for stir fries.

                When cooking goose, though, don't forget to put it in a very deep roasting pan, or put it on the wire rack, with a very deep roasting pan below it. My mum cooked our own geese one year and vowed never again because of the flood of goose fat that came out of the oven.

                1. Irony Deficient

                  Re: Panic!

                  John 62, rendered goose fat is something to be valued. Pour it into jars and keep them in your fridge; it can be used as a spread for toast or for cooking (potatoes roasted in a thin layer of rendered goose fat are particularly good).

            2. Irony Deficient

              Re: Panic!

              Lostyearsago, yes, it makes a difference; brining a pre-brined bird will not improve the final result. I’m referring only to fresh turkeys.

              1. Flatpackhamster

                Re: Panic!

                Fuck me, that's a lot of work for an animal that doesn't taste very good.

                1. Irony Deficient

                  Re: Panic!

                  Flatpackhamster, if you don’t like the taste of turkey, then don’t eat it. I like the taste of properly prepared turkey, so I do eat it (and cook it). Different horses for different courses, and all that.

                  1. Flatpackhamster

                    Re: Panic!

                    It's not that I don't like turkey, it's just that it's really not a very good tasting animal compared to the alternatives, particularly when you have to put that amount of work in. Compare it to goose which requires no work, no buggering around with tinfoil, just bung it in the oven and start drinking.

                    1. Irony Deficient

                      Re: Panic!

                      Flatpackhamster, again, if you don’t find the taste of turkey to be worth the effort of its preparation, then don’t prepare it; sit back and enjoy your beverage while your goose cooks. I like the taste of properly prepared turkey as much as I like the taste of goose, so I’m willing to make the effort. (Where I live, the cost of goose per unit of mass is considerably higher than the equivalent amount of fresh turkey, so that influences my choice of bird; I usually select a goose only once my jars of goose fat are emptied.)

    5. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Panic!

      Oh, I'm thinking more along the lines of "Space Cowboys" except it's THOR (guided rods from space) should the U.S. get too frisky in central and eastern Europe.

      1. DropBear
        Joke

        Re: Panic!

        I think it's quite obvious - the first satellite was just them putting the giga-laser in orbit.

        ...This one is hauling up the shark.

        1. Marketing Hack Silver badge
          Alert

          Re: Panic!

          What's the Russian for "Scoop"?

          (If you know anyone in Piedmont, New Mexico, you might tell them to get out of town for awhile.)

          1. Bear

            Re: Panic!

            Сенсационная новость (sensatsionnaya novost') is the usual translation. But the title of the Evelyn Waugh novel in Russian is Сенсация (Sensatsiya), so I would go with that.

  2. TheWeddingPhotographer

    Ask them

    Ask them, the answer will strike at least one possibility off the list.

    Of course they may need to keep a track on thier fighter planes they keep flying about with no notice to ATC or similar

  3. Vladimir Plouzhnikov

    Expert opinion

    "It could have a number of functions, some civilian and some military."

    No. Shit.

    1. TheWeddingPhotographer

      Re: Expert opinion

      Artistic.. (obviously)

    2. xperroni
      Facepalm

      Re: Expert opinion

      No. Shit.

      My thoughts exactly. I wonder how many years of Bullshit Studies do you need to land an "expert consultant" job at one of those think (such as it is) tanks?

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Expert opinion

        -- "I wonder how many years of Bullshit Studies do you need to land an "expert consultant" job at one of those think (such as it is) tanks?"

        Does that make it a tanking tank?

    3. John Sanders
      Pint

      Re: Expert opinion

      And the beer award goes to.... Vladimir Plouzhnikov!!!

      (He owes me a new screen and keyboard though)

    4. dan1980

      Re: Expert opinion

      @Vladimir

      It is possible that that was intended to say that one option is it being a single-purpose device and another is that it is a multi-purpose device, having both military and civilian uses.

    5. Mark 85 Silver badge

      Re: Expert opinion

      It could be that it has no functions except to scare the hell out of everyone.

  4. Brenda McViking
    Alien

    It's blatantly Putin

    ...trying to pull a fast one on LOHAN.

    He's trying to cheat by putting a playmonaut into orbit using a big rocket rather than a baloon.

    Splitter.

    1. Bleu

      Re: It's blatantly Putin

      Baloon? Do you mean balun?

  5. Grikath

    or...

    It is a simple maneuverable box that the russians *know* will be tracked , just for the purpose of saying: "Look buddies, you're not the only ones able to put stuff in orbit and move it around" .

    Especially when with modern tech it is entirely possible, although expensive, to build something that will be damned hard to track. The russians are not averse to a bit of grandstanding where they feel it's needed, after all.

    1. Ogi

      Re: or...

      Or perhaps, its purpose is to distract the world with a shiny, randomly moving object, while the real military satellite goes off somewhere else quietly?

      Something that people have considered is the case for the USA's "secret" spaceplane as well. Real secrets are not so easily made public, discovered and tracked.

      1. Pete 2

        Re: or...

        > Real secrets are not so easily made public, discovered and tracked.

        Quite so. Given the "stealth" capabilities of military aircraft, it would seem to be a small matter to add a coat of the magic paint to anything you really didn't want space-tracking radar to pick up. Provide a way to position the solar panels so that they never reflect sunlight earthwards and use a very wide channel for your spread-spectrum comms and it should be invisible to earthly detection.

        So we can assume that anything with is easily tracked, like the X-37, is probably a decoy or not very important.

        1. I ain't Spartacus Gold badge

          Re: or...

          Stealth paint isn't magic. It's the shape that makes stealth planes hard for radar to detect. Not having any large flat surfaces for the radar to give a simple return off, but to be all angular, so it reflects off in different directions. That's going to make solar panels particularly problematic, as they have to be folded for launching, and then unfold into exactly the large, flat surfaces you're trying to avoid. I guess that's where you consider using a nice RTG power source instead. I'm sure the Russians have got the odd spare bit of plutonium lying about they could use.

          Another problem is moving around. If you fire your thrusters, you're easier to spot. Although I guess that depends on whether you're expecting to move far or not.

          1. Psyx

            Re: or...

            "It's the shape that makes stealth planes hard for radar to detect. Not having any large flat surfaces for the radar to give a simple return off, but to be all angular, so it reflects off in different directions. That's going to make solar panels particularly problematic,"

            So hang a large, radar absorbing 'balloon' underneath the bird which deflects energy upwards and away, instead of reflecting. A bit like this handy patent suggests:

            http://worldwide.espacenet.com/publicationDetails/biblio?CC=US&NR=5345238&KC=&FT=E&locale=en_EP

            "Provide a way to position the solar panels so that they never reflect sunlight earthwards and use a very wide channel for your spread-spectrum comms and it should be invisible to earthly detection."

            Low orbit is not very far away, so visual making is as important as RADAR. Anyone with a decent telescope can get some fairly good pictures of spy sats. Some of them are the size of a bus. Photos of some here:

            http://www.spacesafetymagazine.com/space-debris/astrophotography/view-keyhole-satellite/

            "So we can assume that anything with is easily tracked like the X-37, is probably a decoy or not very important."

            They're not far away and not hard to track. You'd be making an incorrect assumption.

            Are all these decoys?

            http://www.n2yo.com/satellites/?c=30

            X-37 is relatively easily tracked when you have LOS and know where to look. Except it side-steps this issue by being very maneuverable, so you don't know where or when it's going to make an over-pass, making it much harder to counter than something in a typical orbit.

            1. Bernard M. Orwell
              Alien

              Re: or...

              Interesting thing about the X-37; it's wings are oversized compared to fuselage dimensions. Now, why would you need bigger wings on something that only needs them on re-entry? Why, so that it can carry a bigger payload....

              ....a bigger payload BACK from space. It doesn't need wings during launch at all.

              Now, we don't know exactly how big the cargo bay of the X37 is, but it has the capability to open and close just like its big, manned siblings.

              It would be a crying shame if a non-existent spy satellite was grabbed and brought back for analysis at a base that doesn't exist by a militarised space shuttle that doesn't exist, wouldn't it?

              1. MyffyW Silver badge

                Re: or...

                @Bernard_M._Orwell have an up vote from me, that's the perfect blend of conspiracy and reason.

              2. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

                Re: or...

                Nobody tries to retrieve, or even approach, enemy military satelites.

                A block of C4, some ball-bearings and a proximity fuse and the other side loses a $$Bn space plane.

                That's why the air force space shuttle never happened

                1. Someone Else Silver badge
                  Coat

                  @ Yet Another Anonymous coward -- Re: or...

                  A block of C4, some ball-bearings and a proximity fuse and the other side loses a $$Bn space plane.

                  Oh, and oxygen...don't forget the oxygen, or your block of C4 is nothing but a bad imitation of Silly Putty up there.

                  1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

                    Re: @ Yet Another Anonymous coward -- or...

                    You are familiar with the difference between a fuel and an explosive?

                    It must be a great relief to the world's navies that explosives don't work without atmospheric oxygen - it will greatly reduce the uboat threat.

                  2. Psyx

                    Re: @ Yet Another Anonymous coward -- or...

                    "Oh, and oxygen...don't forget the oxygen, or your block of C4 is nothing but a bad imitation of Silly Putty up there."

                    Lol.

                    No.

                    That's not how explosives work. They contain their own Oxygen atoms.

                    1. Someone Else Silver badge
                      Pint

                      Re: @ Yet Another Anonymous coward -- or...

                      And the cap that causes said explosion?

                      IIRC C4 takes a cap that vaguely resembles a quarter-stick to get it lit, and IIalsoRC, that required atmospheric O2 to get that lit.

                      (Course, this was back in the early seventies, and like they say, anybody who remembers the seventies wasn't there. I was there, so...er.....what was I saying?)

                      1. This post has been deleted by its author

                      2. Psyx

                        Re: @ Yet Another Anonymous coward -- or...

                        "And the cap that causes said explosion? IIRC C4 takes a cap that vaguely resembles a quarter-stick to get it lit, and IIalsoRC, that required atmospheric O2 to get that lit."

                        Blasting caps don't require oxygen either. Only a decent size electric charge.

                    2. Bernard M. Orwell

                      Re: @ Yet Another Anonymous coward -- or...

                      Don't even bother with explosives. Couple of magnets, few ball bearings.... job done.

                2. Psyx

                  Re: or...

                  "Nobody tries to retrieve, or even approach, enemy military satelites."

                  I wouldn't bet a penny on it.

                  "A block of C4, some ball-bearings and a proximity fuse and the other side loses a $$Bn space plane."

                  Except they wouldn't. They'd just fly cubesats up to every bird they can find, writing off a billion-dollar assets for the price of a cubesat. You could take out someone's entire orbital capabilities for a fraction of the price they cost, and requiring several years of launches for them to get back up to capability. I do not buy that spy satellites have such trigger-happy self-defence methods.

                  "That's why the air force space shuttle never happened"

                  Err... there were plenty of reasons, but exploding soviet sats wasn't near the top of the list.

                3. Bernard M. Orwell

                  Re: or...

                  What? The X-37 series automated shuttle never happened? I beg to differ....

          2. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: or...

            Russia pretty much set the standard for using nuclear power in space and it was real reactors, not GTG's which is why any of their RORsats coming down was so dangerous. I had a lovely conversation with a physicist about that. His team put up an X-ray/gamma Ray telescope and it getting blinded only at certain times. Turned out that when their orbit intersected with that of a Soviet RORsat, it's nuclear reactor trashed the sensors for a while.

            RORsat = Radar Ocean Reconnaissance satellite. Used to find navies at sea.

            I'll skip the stealth and solar panel stuff. I'm not sure how much I can talk about (or around) on that topic.

            1. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              Re: or...

              RTG's not GTG's. If you have a nervous system getting sliced by cervical bone spurs, autocorrect "seems" like a good idea, right up until you have any kind of technical discussion.

        2. fajensen Silver badge
          Facepalm

          Re: or...

          Stealth!? You mean that Super Secret Special Sauce aboard that F-117A that was shot down by an ancient AA-battery in 1999 and then handed over to Russia ... who, on seeing that Stealth isn't working so good (except at gouging taxpayers), probably sold the bits and the analysis report off to someone ... like uhh, i dunno, maybe the French or Chengdu Aircraft Industry Group?

          At least we can now buy Stealth on Alibaba.com so we can skip the F-35.

      2. Bleu

        Re: or...

        Come on, the B-37 is a little pricey to be a mere decoy.

        Admirable degree of paranoia, but are you paranoid enough?

        Quiz question: which nation constantly chafes at the bit on the treaty against militarisation of space?

        Hints: the air force has a nifty space plane, they like the occasional chat about "rods from God", are situated between Mexico and Canada, whoah, you've hit the buzzer!

        ... and the answer is ...

    2. AceRimmer1980

      Re: or...

      Expensive?

      I'd say, about A MEELION DOLLARS!

  6. Crisp
    Black Helicopters

    It's obviously a "Weather Satellite"

    Like in Maximum Overdrive...

    1. chivo243 Silver badge
      Happy

      Re: It's obviously a "Weather Satellite"

      Let me fix that for you... It's obviously a "Weather Controlling Satellite". Just ask the residents of New York state ;-}

  7. PCS

    Given the Russian success rates with space launches and satellites it's probably the Russian version of Bob the Builder waiting to fix the ones that actually manage to get above the atmosphere.

    Can we fix it? Yes we can!

  8. Richard Tobin

    It's obvious

    Its purpose is to distract attention from the other secret satellite they sent up at the same time.

    1. Bloakey1

      Re: It's obvious

      When they sent it up they sent a rocket with a payload of four satellites. Three were declared and one was declared much later.

      As it is sneaking up on its own launcher, it looks like it is a recovery / spy satellite.

  9. imanidiot Silver badge

    sattelite spying sattelite?

    Maybe they are putting maneuverable sats in place to spy on the next x-37 craft while in orbit? Id bet the ruskies are rather interested in getting a close up of it and other american spy sats.

    1. I ain't Spartacus Gold badge
      Happy

      Re: sattelite spying sattelite?

      Spying on it is boring. Why not send up a bigger satellite that can drive up behind it, swallow it whole, then bring it back down to earth for examination?

      1. Crisp

        Re: sattelite spying sattelite?

        There's your Kickstarter pitch right there...

      2. Psyx

        Re: sattelite spying sattelite?

        Not only a Bond-ism, this was within the capabilities of the shuttle (which was primarily a military toy).

      3. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

        Re: sattelite spying sattelite?

        Have you tried doing the environmental impact assesment for hollowing out a volcano?

        1. I ain't Spartacus Gold badge
          Devil

          Re: sattelite spying sattelite?

          Have you tried doing the environmental impact assesment for hollowing out a volcano?

          I tend to find that after I've shot a few people with sandals and clipboards, the environmental impact statements say exactly what I want them to...

          1. Martin Budden Bronze badge
            Coat

            Re: sattelite spying sattelite?

            What kind of gun shoots sandals and clipboards at people?

          2. My Alter Ego

            Re: sattelite spying sattelite?

            Who throws a shoe? Honestly. And a clipboard, it's got some sharp edges, you could take somebody's eye out with that.

  10. stu 4

    moonraker

    that is all

    1. John 62

      Re: moonraker

      Oh, you mean the crappy film. The book is very different and much better.

  11. Vociferous

    Of course it's a weapon.

    > "But it could also be any other kind of experimental craft that the Russians just don’t feel like revealing"

    Yeah, because Russia is such a shrinking violet about its peaceful civilian achievements.

    Some sort of weapon, presumably an anti-satellite weapon. But hey, it's Russia, which does not abide by any international treaties or agreements, so it might as well be an EMP-generating nuke, a real-life "Goldeneye".

    1. Chris G Silver badge

      Re: Of course it's a weapon.

      So the US abides by every treaty it ever signed? Ask a couple of Native Americans for their opinion.

      The US has declined to sign more UN restrictions on arms and conflict than anyone. There are NO benign nations out there, they are all out for themselves. Except for the UK, they just do what uncle Sam tells them.

      1. Bleu

        Re: Of course it's a weapon.

        "Except for the UK". I saw what you did there. Not bad.

      2. Vociferous

        Re: Of course it's a weapon.

        >So the US abides by every treaty it ever signed?

        Where the hell did I say that, Comrade? Go commit your effing tu quoque fallacies on someone else.

        >The US has declined to sign more UN restrictions on arms and conflict than anyone.

        Yeah, and Russia signs them without any intention of ever following them. Which is better?

  12. TRT Silver badge

    I've analysed the readings from the MP3 detector and...

    it looks like a limpet rocket of some kind. Like the sort they use to clear space junk. It must be based inside one of those derelicts out there.

  13. Any mouse Cow turd

    take a look

    If the yanks really want to know what these 2 objects are why don't they just send X-37b back up to take a look? We might not know the real purpose of the US secret spaceplane but I'm sure it's got a camera on board.

    1. 4ecks

      Re: take a look

      What I think :- the Russian sat. is specially equipped to look at the X-37B and they are just waiting for the Americans to take the bait.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: take a look

        This game is played by everyone. Been there, done that on the Soviets, PRC, even done that on our side in war games. And boy was that Admiral passed when we sank his carrier.

    2. Frankee Llonnygog

      Re: take a look

      And when the X-37b is in range of the Nudelmanns ...

    3. JonW

      Re: take a look

      You're assuming that this thing is not just a load of cameras and stuff designed to tempt the thing to get close to do the same

    4. I ain't Spartacus Gold badge
      Happy

      Re: take a look

      Ah, but what's stopping the Americans from putting up a fake X37B to have a look-see at this new Russian toy?

      Small inflatable microsatellite with camera perhaps?

      1. danbi

        Re: take a look

        I like the idea of inflatable satellite.

        1. melt

          Re: take a look

          Project Echo!

          http://www.nasa.gov/centers/langley/about/project-echo_prt.htm

  14. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    It's a moon stealing satellite of course.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Pint

      Ha

      You're Despicable Mr Gru

  15. Anonymous Coward
    Alien

    Aliens

    Come to find out what happened to those synthetic CDO's they bought from GS back in 2007.....

  16. Whiskers

    Useful debris

    I wonder how much of the "debris" out there has deliberately designed potential for further use? Someone could be making a sort of Meccano or Airfix kit for assembly into something useful.

    1. squigbobble

      Re: Useful debris

      Yeah but try intercepting and docking with it. Just lofting enough fuel for all the manoeuvres would be an arseache.

      1. Whiskers

        Re: Useful debris

        Manoeuvering is what we've got. You don't have to lift everything all at once; a little bit here, a litle bit there, squeeze the wiggle room a bit, and the costs can be "lost" in the bill for the main payload.

    2. TRT Silver badge

      Re: Useful debris

      Vladimatron... ASSEMBLE!

  17. gkroog
    Joke

    It could be a weapon...

    ...even if it just falls out of orbit in the right place...

  18. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Mike Myers

    "but Russia has never said what it’s for."

    Its for their Frikkin' "Laser" of course.

  19. Andy The Hat Silver badge
    Facepalm

    RE: It's a moon stealing satellite of course.

    That's such a silly comment.

    If the Russians were going to steal the moon, everyone knows they'd need a shrink ray first ...

    OH NO, IT'S A SHRINK RAY!

  20. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Persecution

    Someone told Putin about gaydar....

    1. Destroy All Monsters Silver badge
      Paris Hilton

      Re: Persecution

      Wasn't Gaydar the guy how Really Has No Luck At All on Battlestar Galactica?

  21. Steve the Cynic

    Not a new idea...

    "Another would be kinetic pellets which shoot out at another satellite."

    Salyut 3 had (or so it is claimed) such a mechanism, aka a 23mm autocannon (some sources claim 30mm). And it's a rather coy name for bullets, too.

    1. hplasm Silver badge
      Alert

      Re: Not a new idea...

      ...just waiting for Sandra Bullock...

  22. Arachnoid

    Given its alleged manuverability

    It could be used to latch on to other objects to either capture and nullify them[ i.e. explosion,interference or hack] or alternately move them off their own preprogrammed routes at strategic moments in history.

  23. Red Bren
    Mushroom

    It's fluoridating the atmosphere

    They're polluting our precious bodily fluids!

  24. Androgynous Cupboard Silver badge

    Official response received

    It's not a satellite, and if it is it's not Russian, and even if it was it hasn't crossed any borders and is just lost on a training exercise and we really don't see what the fuss is all about.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Official response received

      "Mr. Ambassador, wars are started this way." And I'm absolutely sure who starts them. My idiots in charge.

  25. Tikimon

    Pizza delivery!

    Hi there! Sorry I'm a little late, I lost an engine on takeoff and we had to go for the secondary orbit. That'll be $12,345,678.95 please. Oh, thanks for the tip! Have a good one, we'll see you next week!

  26. Richard Scratcher

    ЛОХАНСКИЙ ?

    See title.

  27. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    We're all....

    GONNA FUCKIN' DIE!!!!!!!!

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Facepalm

      Re: We're all....

      of course we will, no one gets out alive after all

  28. Stevie Silver badge

    Bah!

    Point of order, Mr Chairman!

    To be a "constellation" they'd have to be bunched together and stay in the same formation over geological time.

    What we have here is one satellite joining a bunch of other satellites, except it probably isn't joining them so much as being somewhere completely different to each of the others otherwise what's the point, right?

    1. Red Bren

      Re: Bah!

      Objection Mr Chairman

      A constellation can refer to a collection of related objects.

      As to the reference to geological time, the constellations in the night sky are slowly but constantly changing due to the proper motions of their constituent stars. In a timescale as short as 50000 years, many of today's constellations will be unrecognisable.

  29. JaitcH
    WTF?

    Russia Nefarious" You've been reading too much US Gov PR

    No one, but no one, has more satellites tasked with evil intent.

    The US thinks it owns space, if other major countries wanted their equivalent share of space slots, there wouldn't be enough.

  30. Elmer Phud

    Again?

    Maybe they have done another 'superplane' which turned out to be run by clockwork - but didn't stop a feeding frenzy by the usual big boys toys suppliers which the U.S. was happy to oblige with.

    Maybe it's just a way to bankrupt the U.S.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Again?

      "Maybe it's just a way to bankrupt the U.S."

      ?? Morally ?? Too late. Financially? Pretty much done although turnabout is fair play since we did it to them first.

      1. Destroy All Monsters Silver badge
        Trollface

        Re: Again?

        It's like Bad Santa has finally arrived outside of Hollywood movies.

  31. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Well of course everyone should be worried, it's the Russians, it's not like any other paranoid, secretive superpower would launch secret unmanned robot spaceplanes....

    Oh...

  32. Destroy All Monsters Silver badge
    Paris Hilton

    clandestine Russian spacecraft

    What you say? Clandestine? Not cleared with the American Empire? Unacceptable! HARDER SANCTIONS NOW, BOOTS ON THE GROUND, ALL OPTIONS ON THE TABLE (except sexual ones, probably).

    Seriously, does a nation need to contat an international clearinghouse dealing in space stuff? I suppose it's a good idea to phone ahead to other nations of a launch lest someone push the red button in undue haste, but apart from that?

  33. Vociferous

    It scares me that people here seem to think the US and Russia are equivalent.

    One is a functioning democracy with rule of law and free speech, the other is a fascist dictatorship without rule of law or free speech.

    If you don't know which is which, you're either mind-bogglingly ignorant or faking stupidity for ideological reasons.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      @ Vociferous Re: It scares me that people here seem to think the US and Russia are equivalent.

      Given that political correctness, general paranoia (which I admit I'm occasionally guilty of) when it comes to Russia or politicians attempting to route more funds to their districts, I'm thinking that the first amendment has taken a serious beating over the years. And if you question the motives of our moron president, the pathological congress and all the insane minions in civil servant jobs, you'd probably be shot for implying anything anti-us or anti-north america. Well maybe not shot, how about deprived of oxygen from waterboarding,however, help is a little tardy getting there to revive you.

      1. Vociferous

        Re: @ Vociferous It scares me that people here seem to think the US and Russia are equivalent.

        I'm thinking that the first amendment has taken a serious beating over the years

        And you'd be wrong, as the fact that you can call the president a moron without any fear of any repercussion shows. Unlike in Russia, you can criticize the government without The Register being cautioned or prosecuted. Unlike in Russia, you can have an anonymous blog. If you report or write about a corrupt politician, HE is more likely to be prosecuted than YOU. Unlike in Russia.

        1. Destroy All Monsters Silver badge
          Thumb Down

          Re: @ Vociferous It scares me that people here seem to think the US and Russia are equivalent.

          And you'd be wrong

          You, sir, are a clueless bag of vapid hot air and you should start to educate yourself.

          as the fact that you can call the president a moron without any fear of any repercussion shows

          "Being able to be a clown in public shows that we are free" and other illuminating commentary from the shit-for-brains-producing ideological stuffing.

          Be along now.

          1. Vociferous

            Re: @ Vociferous It scares me that people here seem to think the US and Russia are equivalent.

            "Being able to be a clown in public shows that we are free" and other illuminating commentary from the shit-for-brains-producing ideological stuffing

            So you don't have a fucking clue what either freedom or oppression is, and even less what freedom of speech is.

            Dumb rich kid syndrome. Sheltered lives with little education and no experience means they think they're being oppressed when they live in the freest countries of the world.

        2. danbi

          Re: @ Vociferous It scares me that people here seem to think the US and Russia are equivalent.

          "Unlike in Russia, you can criticize ..."

          You speak about this, because you were in Russia, criticized someone and something bad happened to a third party?

          Or, you just repeat someone's propaganda?

          You would be surprised how much freely Russians express their opinion, about anything. Unlike most people in the .. land of freedom.

          1. Vociferous

            Re: @ Vociferous It scares me that people here seem to think the US and Russia are equivalent.

            You would be surprised how much freely Russians express their opinion, about anything

            Yeah, Russia is a bastion of free speech. You can say whatever you want. Without fear of repercussions.

    2. Destroy All Monsters Silver badge
      Big Brother

      Re: It scares me that people here seem to think the US and Russia are equivalent.

      One is a functioning democracy with rule of law and free speech, the other is a fascist dictatorship without rule of law or free speech.

      I will pass and demand my right to call a relative by phone to help me answer this question.

    3. Psyx

      Re: It scares me that people here seem to think the US and Russia are equivalent.

      "One is a functioning democracy with rule of law and free speech"

      So one should be allowed to weaponise space freely and without comment, the other [ie Russia] shouldn't?

      1. Vociferous

        Re: It scares me that people here seem to think the US and Russia are equivalent.

        Yes, I do not want aggressive dictatorships to have space weapons. You do?

  34. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    That reminds me.

    Is it possible to have a stealth satellite. And I don't mean the NSA ones that sit nearby global communications satellites, their space tap relays. I mean one that, once launched and moved about a bit, is extremely difficult to detect from earth and space. Unless you know exactly where it is you are not finding it. All transmissions to and from it are dynamically changing from second to second spread spectrum and well below the noise floor. Any RF transmissions would, should and could be detected as background noise from the big bang, unless you know the algorithm and the keys used to change frequencies used.

  35. tempemeaty

    Doberman

    That is my name for this weapon.

    After you go to war, if you silently drop warheads from an orbital platform there is no incoming rocket to detect. By the time you think you detected something it's already to late.

    1. Horridbloke

      Re: Doberman

      How do you drop warheads from an orbital platform? Just pointing a warhead towards earth and releasing the clamp will be pretty anticlimactic. You will need either a gun of some sort or a rocket of some sort.

    2. Psyx

      Re: Doberman

      "Doberman That is my name for this weapon."

      You're late to the party.

      Call them Rods From God or Thor munitions like everyone else has for 50 years:

      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kinetic_bombardment

      Also: Utterly prohibited by convention.

  36. robbiejena

    New Possibilities

    It may be that Russia is ready to send sensors and satellites to Moon and Mars and hence need a multiple system for various activities including safety & security....just a thought...

  37. silent_count

    and nobody seems to know what it’s doing up there.

    Do you reckon the Russians might have some inkling?

  38. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Is there not enough junk up there already ?

    'However, a fourth object also went into orbit at the same time, which skywatchers initially believed was space junk'

    Why would anybody in their right mind take the trouble to launch space junk into orbit ? Surely just putting it into landfill would be cheaper/easier.

    1. Horridbloke

      Re: Is there not enough junk up there already ?

      The payload had "SPACE JUNK" written on the side of it in big letters. Crafty beggers those ruskies.

    2. Psyx
      Boffin

      Re: Is there not enough junk up there already ?

      "Why would anybody in their right mind take the trouble to launch space junk into orbit ? "

      Used rocket stages, shrouds/casings, and payloads that failed to function are all space junk that we paid to put up there.

  39. WhankChops

    Space Poo

    It is clearly several hundred kilogrammes of frozen cosmonaut poo which is readily identifiable becasue of it's unique spectral shift.

    Can't wait for re-entry of said poo, it's going to be memorable.

  40. crob

    Wary but not paranoid

    Guess we'll find out when the lights go out.

  41. Curly4
    Happy

    ET is spying on us.

    The object is not claimed by any power on earth so maybe it is a spy satellite placed in orbit by some extraterrestrial power to determine it an invasion would be successful.

  42. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    It's the Russian Empire

    testing their new Tie-Fighters.

  43. Stevie Silver badge

    Bah!

    Fools! This is a clear ploy to divert attention away from their secret project to tunnel through the continental shelf and launch an attack from the safety of the Earth's core!

  44. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Re. Bah

    It could be an experimental FTL test ship, based on the recent work done by Alcubierre et al thanks to some improvements to the technology utilizing the new rotating superconducting toroids to allow warping of space-time without exotic matter.

    Why does everyone assume that it would be hostile, remember Fobos-Grunt?

    An FTL probe that gets even 1/10 of a light year out would be a huge PR coup for the Russians and set the standard for everyone else not least giving a huge boost to Mars missions.

    1 week in space would solve the radiation problem in short order.

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