The head of Russia's Space Command said on Sunday that satellites disguised as space junk orbiting above its territory are actually satellites gathering intelligence, according to Japan Times.
"Very recently, specialists from the Main Space Intelligence Center uncovered a newly created group of space satellites . . . made for radio-technical reconnaissance of equipment on Russian territory," said Gen. Oleg Maidanovich, the commander of the Aerospace Defense Forces' Space Command, according to Japan Times.
Space Command is the section of the Russian military in charge of missile and airstrike warnings, monitoring space debris to prevent collisions, gathering intelligence, identifying new space objects and monitoring deorbiting space vehicles, according to the self-described "autonomous nonprofit organization 'TV-Novosti'" (RT). It also controls the country's defense satellites.
The center's "eyes," laser-optic and optronic space tracking systems, are installed in several regions of Russia, from Moscow to the Pacific region and a "Okno" (Window) optical tracking facility in the mountains of central Tajikistan, according to RT. Okno is able to monitor objects as far as 40,000 kilometers into space.
Maidanovich said spy satellites can be inactive, floating as space trash for years, before "waking up" at the right moment, according to The Moscow Times.
Maidanovich also refused to name which country or countries the satellites were gathering information for because, "there is currently no necessity to do so," according to The Moscow Times. Maidanovich also said that when Space Command finds a spy satellite, the information is taken to the country's leadership and a decision is made on an international level. He said there are no plans to destroy any satellite discovered.
Russia's aerospace defense forces monitor about 20,000 objects orbiting the planet, out of about 100,000, every day because it believes the objects could serve a military purpose, according to The Moscow Times.