The Soviet "Istanbul Sputnikov" anti-satellite program hasn't gained much attention since the Cold War, after which it was thought to be retired. But a new, mysterious spacecraft has reignited rumors about the so-called "satellite killer."
The Washington Post explains that it was widely believed the collapse of the Soviet empire had grounded the killer. But this past May, the Russian "Roar" rocket was launched into space and deployed a satellite, Object 2014-28E, that remains a mystery to scientists across the globe.
The satellite may simply be debris, or "space junk," but it could also be "the latest chapter in the militarization of space," according to the Post. If a spacecraft is able to target satellites, they could interfere with cellphone and television services, impairing "a nation's abilities to conduct its military or shut down crucial global communication services."
However, experts also noted that the possibility of the spacecraft interfering with satellites "makes little sense," since hackers can interfere with satellites without leaving Earth. Robert Christy, a former member of the Kettering Group of astronomers, told the Post that the Russian satellite could theoretically destroy other satellites in orbit. While there's no proof yet that the satellite is connected to a future space war, there's also no indication about what it's actually doing.