The US military is among those tracking an object Russia recently sent into space. Object 2014-28E, which has been moving toward other Russian space objects, was at first thought to be simply debris, the Financial Times reports. It could be intended to repair satellites already in space, or it could be a sort of vacuum cleaner to get rid of space junk. Or it could have a military purpose, expert Patricia Lewis tells the paper, noting the possibility of "kinetic pellets which shoot out at another satellite" or involvement in "satellite-to-satellite cyber attack or jamming." The object entered orbit when Russia launched a rocket in May to add communications satellites to military gear already in space.
After the Iron Curtain fell, the country shelved a military program known as Istrebitel Sputnikov, or "satellite killer," and Moscow has previously sought a treaty against sending weapons into space. But military officials have suggested in the past that if relations with the US were to become strained, new research into space weaponry would be a possibility, the FT notes. "There should be no war in space, but we are military people and should be ready," Russia's space commander said in 2010, as per the Washington Post. "Trust me, we would be able to respond quickly and adequately." Lewis offers a disturbing scenario to the Post: "Imagine if you were having a Katrina episode and all of your satellites suddenly got jammed."