Russian Hide-N-Seek


As Mark Twain said, "Always tell the truth. That way, you don’t have to remember what you said." The Russian Defence Ministry’s Information and Public Relations Directorate ought to make a note of it.

Back in April, Red Orbit reported they denied a major satellite malfunction:

"In connection with reports published in some mass media alleging that the Kosmos-2421 satellite has disintegrated, we would like to report that its planned flight programme has been fulfilled. After switching off its on-board equipment, the satellite was taken out of service in accordance with the established procedure", reads the directorate’s report received by Interfax-AVN today.

According to the Defence Ministry, "the Kosmos-2421 satellite remains in its orbit, the parameters of which correspond to the predicted ones, and is under steady observation by means of the national system of space control".

The ministry added that there are three more space objects in orbits close to Kosmos-2421. "One of them is a stage vehicle of a carrier rocket, and the other two – fragments of a launch [vehicle]", the report says. [Passage omitted on "a NASA website" report on the alleged disintegration of the satellite; background]

Originally published by Interfax-AVN military news agency website, Moscow, in Russian 1431 15 Apr 08.

Well, according to NASA’s Orbital Debris Quarterly News, that’s not entirely true:

Late in the first quarter of 2008, the U.S. Space Surveillance Network (SSN) detected a significant fragmentation of Cosmos 2421 (International Designator 2006-026A, U.S. Satellite Number 29247), which produced approximately 300 detectable debris (see ODQN, Vol. 12, Issue 2). Two more fragmentation events of the same spacecraft during April-June added another 200 or more large debris (greater than 5 cm) to the near-Earth space environment, once again raising questions about the peculiar nature of this satellite class.


You can count on our friends at U.S. Strategic Command’s Space Surveillance Network to keep an eye on them.