French startup captures Russian satellite maneuvering close to another geosynchronous satellite

The French startup Aldoria has released a short movie taken by its ground telescopes showing a Russian “inspector” satellite maneuvering close to another geosynchronous satellite.

In a recent operation, Aldoria detected a sudden close approach by the Russian Luch Olymp K-2 (Luch-2) to a satellite positioned in geostationary orbit (GEO). This manoeuvre occurred on April 12, around 35,780 km in altitude, highlighting the increasing complexity of space activities. Luch Olymp 2, known for its unusual manoeuvres was predicted, by Aldoria, to closely approach the satellite prior to the observed manoeuvre. The original Luch-1, launched in 2014, was known for similar abnormal behaviour, creating a heightened sense of vigilance within the space community. Luch-2, like its predecessor, has a history of unusual manoeuvring near other satellites in geostationary orbit, which has also generated suspicions regarding its mission.

You can see the video here.

In the past year it appears the entire aerospace industry in Europe has come alive, no longer captured by the European Space Agency’s government-owned commercial arm, Arianespace. Instead, there are companies popping up everywhere, doing the kinds of entrepreneurial work American companies have been known to do since the founding of the country.

The competition for business and the amount of innovation in space should get very brisk in the next few years.