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MOSCOW, March 3 (RIA Novosti) - A collision between U.S. and Russian satellites in early February may have been a test of new U.S. technology to intercept and destroy satellites rather than an accident, a Russian military expert has said.
According to official reports, one of 66 satellites owned by Iridium, a U.S. telecoms company, and the Russian Cosmos-2251 satellite, launched in 1993 and believed to be defunct, collided on February 10 about 800 kilometers (500 miles) above Siberia.
Shershnev claims the U.S. military decided to continue with the project to "develop technology that would allow monitoring and inspections of orbital spacecraft by fully-automated satellites equipped with robotic devices."
The February collision could be an indication that the U.S. has successfully developed such technology and is capable of manipulating 'hostile satellites,' including their destruction, with a single command from a ground control center, the general said.
Asked which satellite was at fault, Johnson said "they ran into each other. Nothing has the right of way up there. We don't have an air traffic controller in space. There is no universal way of knowing what's coming in your direction."
Iridium Satellite LLC operates a constellation of some 66 satellites, along with orbital spares, to support satellite telephone operations around the world. The spacecraft, which weigh about 1,485 pounds when fully fueled, are in orbits tilted 86.4 degrees to the equator at an altitude of about 485 miles. Ninety-five Iridium satellites were launched between 1997 and 2002 and several have failed over the years.