Advanced Television

Russia eavesdrops on Eutelsat satellite

October 23, 2023

By Chris Forrester

Russia has shifted one of its Luch satellites (which translates as ‘Beam’ or ‘Ray’) right alongside Eutelsat’s 3B craft. The Russian satellite is reported by observers to be about 18kms from the Eutelsat, which is extremely close. Satellite, which are registered with the ITU observe an orbital slot about 40kms by 40 kms.

According to observational data from California-based Slingshot Aerospace, the satellite known as Luch-5X or Olymp-K-2 began moving East to West shortly after its launch on March 12th making stops at nearby non-Russian satellites.

Slingshot says it used its own network of ground-based telescopes, as well as monitoring data provided by US Space Command and other sources to plot the Russian satellite’s probable route.

Satellite operators tend to get worried if other satellites come within 10kms of one of its assets.

Sources suggest that the Russian satellite is an ‘inspector’ craft or Rendezvous & Proximity Operation vehicle or what Western agencies describe as a Signals Intelligence satellite, deliberately placed to eavesdrop.

US and European military are anxious given Russia’s previous history of similar activity. In 2015 one of this Russian satellite’s predecessors came with 5kms of an Intelsat craft that was also focussed on Middle East and Asia.

Eutelsat 3B is located at 3° East, the satellite is optimised for customers operating broadband, data, telecom and video services in a footprint spanning from Brazil to Central Asia.

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