Just days after a near-miss of two American satellites in space high over Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, military leaders are warning of a new hazard: two russian satellites appear to be charing an American satellite in space, getting dangerously close to it.
According to the newly formed United States Space Force, Russian spacecraft are trailing a US satellite used to spy on other countries. “This is unusual and disturbing behavior and has the potential to create a dangerous situation in space,” General John Raymond, the Space Force chief of space operations, said in a statement shared with the media. “The United States finds these recent activities to be concerning and do not reflect the behavior of a responsible spacefaring nation.”
According to General Raymond, Russia launched a satellite that subsequently released a second satellite in space in November, adding that the pair of satellites appear to be behaving similarly to another set of satellites that Russia has labeled “inspector satellites.” General Raymond says that the two Russian satellites have come within 100 miles of the America satellite and that the U.S. has raised concerns about the matter to Moscow through diplomatic channels.
President Trump signed the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) on December 20, creating the U.S. Space Force in doing so. As the sixth branch of the U.S. military, it is nested within the Department of the Air Force, much like the Marine Corps is connected to the Department of the Navy. By creating a new, separate service with a dedicated purpose, the intent of the new branch is to maintain space superiority even as space becomes more crowded and contested. The NDAA also directs the Space Force “shall provide the freedom of operation in, from and to space, while providing prompt and sustained space operations.”
Secretary of the Air Force Barbara M. Barrett praised the formal creation of the U.S. Space Force, identifying it as a critical capability in defending the nation and pledging that the first new branch of the military since 1947 would be established with speed and clarity of purpose. “The launch of an independent U.S. Space Force propels us into a new era dedicated to protecting U.S. national interests and security in space,” Barrett said. “We will work with (Department of Defense) leaders, Congress, our joint military teammates, industry and our national security partners as we establish the Space Force to ensure continued American leadership in space.”