On August 14, 2018, a high-ranking U.S. State Department official implied that a recent Russian satellite could be a space weapon of some kind. Describing the satellite as “very abnormal”, the official told conference members in Geneva, “We don’t know for certain what it is, and there is no way to verify it.”
She then went on to address the room with this statement:
“Russian intentions with respect to this satellite are unclear and are obviously a very troubling development — particularly when considered in concert with statements by Russia’s Space Force commander, who highlighted that ‘assimilating new prototypes of weapons into Space Forces’ military units is a main task’ facing the Aerospace Forces space troops.”
The official did not name the satellite. She only said it was deployed in October 2017. And the deployment was rather odd – a first of its kind really.
The satellite known as Cosmos 2519 was launched in June 2017 without much fanfare. But then, two months later in August 2017, Cosmos 2519 popped out a subsatellite known as Cosmos 2521. Stranger still, on October 30, 2017, Cosmos 2521 popped out yet another subsat called Cosmos 2523.
Scientists are unsure what the purpose of the satellites is or why they were deployed in such an unusual manner. They have noted that one of the satellites seemed to “return back” to its parent for “proximity operations”. In fact, the subsat might have even re-docked with its parent a second time. To add to the confusion, in February 2018, Cosmos 2521 adjusted its orbit from about 400 miles from Earth to around 220 miles. On July 201, 2018, it dropped again to about 181 miles. Cosmos 2519 (the parent) followed a similar method of operation.