Under a mission dubbed Kosmos-2558, the 14F150 Nivelir Russian satellite is currently on an orbital path that would place it suspiciously close to the US satellite known as USA-326.
Space journalist and publisher of RussianSpaceWeb.com, Anatoly Zak, Tweeted about the launch of the probe on Monday.
This sparked rumours online that it will serve as an “inspector” satellite to covertly spy on nearby spacecraft.
The 14F150 Nivelir satellite was deployed into a Sun-Synchronous Orbit (SSO).
That’s usually for satellites that travel over the polar regions of the globe so their orbital paths are synchronous with the Sun.
However, a statement by the Russian Ministry of Defense referred to it as a military satellite. Still, its exact purpose is still unknown.
According to the commander of the US Space Force, Gen. John “Jay” Raymond, the pair of Russian satellites had come extremely close, within 100 miles of Amerca’s shuttle.
“We view this behaviour as unusual and disturbing,” Raymond told Time magazine at the time.
“It has the potential to create a dangerous situation in space.”
Raymond said that the US government reached out to Moscow about the close range of the satellites, expressing concern “through diplomatic channels”.
However, Russian news agency TASS dismissed the maneuver as nothing but a mere test, to investigate the “technical condition of domestic satellites”.