Space French defense head charges Russia of dangerous games in space

AAR Galileo

Mi Captain
MI.Net Member
Mar 6, 2018
PARIS — A mysterious Russian satellite “with big ears” cozied up to a French communications satellite last year in an apparent effort to eavesdrop on secure military communications, France’s defense minister alleged Friday.

In what she said amounted to a “Star Wars” above the Earth, Florence Parly named the Russian satellite as Luch-Olymp. She said it approached the Athena-Fidus, a French-Italian satellite launched in 2014 and used for secure military communications and the planning of operations.

“Trying to listen to one’s neighbor is not only unfriendly. It’s called an act of espionage,” Parly said in a speech in the southern city of Toulouse.

“It got close. A bit too close. So close that one really could believe that it was trying to capture our communications.”

She added that “this little Stars Wars didn’t happen a long time ago in a galaxy far away. It happened a year ago, 36,000 kilometers above our heads.”
She said the Russian satellite has “big ears” and is “well-known but a bit indiscreet.”
Without giving details, she said France had taken “the necessary measures” and is watching the satellite attentively.

The Luch system has been a focus of space observers for several years. In the past, the family of Russian satellites has been tracked moving into position near several U.S. commercial systems. Experts described those maneuvers as unsafe and out of line with established norms, with some questioning whether the system could be used to spy on transmissions – or to strike at vital U.S. equipment in case of conflict.

Here an image of the Russian satellite near the French-Italian comm sat taken by the ArianeGroup telescope array.


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