Rokot booster was launched into orbit on Christmas Day in 2013. Russian officials stated that communications satellites were carried by this rocket. Usually, Rodnik communications satellites are set out in threes. However, this time there were four inside the Christmas Rokot.
One of the four spacecraft, Kosmos-2491 thrust itself in another orbit. This is unusual because orbital spacecraft do not have engines.
Two similar spacecraft were launched by Russia after this one.
All three of these spacecraft were launched secretly into orbit and their purpose is mysterious.
It is assumed that Kosmos-2491, -2499, and -2504 could be used to spy, hijack and destroy other satellites in space. They have the ability to get really close to other objects in space. They are also considered a threat in space by the US.
According to the US military, it has been observed that three mystery sats were practicing how to dodge flying debris in space at different speeds and distances.
However, the Pentagon has never stated their opinion on the purpose of these three mystery sats. Neither did Kremlin.
According to Russian Federal Space Agency Chief Oleg Ostapenko, Kosmos-2491, -2499, and -2504 are used for peaceful purposes.
Another conclusion was made by Anatoly Zak. He said that these spacecraft are certainly weapons. He believes that if these are armed with weapons, they could probably cause destruction.
It has to be noted that other countries like the United States, Sweden, Japan, and China have all launched similar spacecraft into space. These spacecraft have the ability to fly close and perform frying tricks against other objects in space.
In July 2014, two Geosynchronous Space Situational Awareness Program satellites have been launched by The U.S. Air Force. These are launched much higher than the Russian spacecraft and they are in proximity of the most valuable communications satellites. This can also be perceived as a threat to some country’s orbital infrastructure. On the other hand, they can also observe other objects in case they have weapons on them.
It is believed that Moscow was too bold to launch these objects into space which are possibly armed.
The US has around 1,200 active satellites which are used for many purposes from research, GPS to sending messages to soldiers. This puts the US in a vulnerable position because the majority of orbital hardware belongs to them.
The only way to maintain peace in the space is to stop launching space weaponry. However, this will unlikely be the case.