A Russian spy-satellite reportedly occupied an orbital position allocated to Intelsat for 5 months earlier this year.
The Russian satellite deliberately parked itself directly between the Intelsat 7 and Intelsat 901 craft (at 18.1 degrees West), says a report in trade mag Space News, and on one occasion came to about 10 kilometres of the co-located Intelsat satellites. This “abnormal” manoeuvre placed the two Intelsat satellites at risk, said Intelsat.
Kay Sears, president of Intelsat General, the government services arm of Intelsat, said in an October 8th interview with Space News: “We absolutely need responsible operators. Space is a domain that has to be protected.” This is the first time that Intelsat has faced such a deliberate threat.
The public admission by Intelsat only reveals what has been a worry for some time by US Defense Department officials.