That satellite collision 500 miles above the Earth last month? All a Yankee plot, says a Russian general.
Maj. Gen. (Ret.) Leonid Shershnev, identified as the former chief of Russia's military space intelligence, tells the Kremlin-run RIA Novosti press agency that the cosmic crack-up may have been a test of U.S. space-weapon technology.
Officially, a defunct Russian satellite collided with an American telecommunications bird, one of 66 owned and operated by the Iridium company which relay signals to and from satellite phones on Earth.
Shershnev doesn't buy it. He thinks the American satellite was really one of the two used in the 2007 Orbital Express experiment, a NASA-Pentagon joint venture in which one satellite hooked up with and refueled another.
That program was officially shut down nearly two years ago. Shershnev thinks it may be still running, that Orbital Express has reached its goal to "develop technology that would allow monitoring and inspections of orbital spacecraft by fully-automated satellites equipped with robotic devices," and that it can now do even more.
According to RIA Novosti's paraphrase of the general's words, the U.S. may now be "capable of manipulating 'hostile satellites,' including their destruction, with a single command from a ground control center."