Russia’s most advanced anti-satellite satellite, Kosmos 2504, a maneuvering satellite killer “asleep” for the past two years was suddenly awakened last March by its controllers, an event that continues to baffle western analysts.
The robotic Kosmos 2504 represents the newest generation of Russian ASATs (anti-satelllite weapons) that neutralize a target not by colliding with it or exploding in close proximity to it, but by pushing enemy (United States) military satellites out of their orbits, thereby rendering these milsats useless.
What makes the Kosmos 2504-class extremely dangerous is they can keep attacking U.S. military satellites until their thruster fuel runs out.
And to make certain the U.S. milsat targeted for destruction is indeed the intended prey, Kosmos-2504 ASATs maneuver close to their target and first send photos or video to ground control prior to the attack.
Kosmos-2504 was orbited on March 31, 2015. Two weeks later, Kosmos-2504 pushed the upper stage of the Briz-KM rocket that took it into space into a higher orbit, confirming its ability to attack another spacecraft.
Western ground observers detected the Briz-KM stage climbing slightly after being pushed to a higher orbit by Kosmos-2504. In July 2015, Kosmos-2504 maneuvered into a lower orbit and in October ascended into a higher orbit.
Kosmos-2504 “went to sleep” for almost two years after these maneuvers. The satellite came to life on March 27, 2017 and its movements were detected by western ground observers.
The reason for this killer satellite’s “awakening” remain a subject of speculation.
On April 20, Kosmos-2504 maneuvered close to debris from the Chinese weather satellite, Fengyun-1C, destroyed on Jan 11, 2007 in China’s test of one of its anti-satellite missiles. Kosmos-2504 conducted another maneuver between April 18 and April 19.
Kosmos-2504 was preceded into orbit by two smaller test satellites developed to perform the same mission: Kosmos-2491 launched in December 2013 and Kosmos-2499 launched in December 2014.