If the rumors are true, then the next logical question is, why has the USA 326 been singled out as its victim?
One reason is that this is a military satellite with a non-publically disclosed mission. This makes it mysterious, which makes it even more alluring for Russia.
“It’s a new model, and it’s of interest because we don’t know much about it,” McDowell explained. “I want to know, and I’m sure the Russians have the exact same reaction,” he added.
Once in position, and by hovering next to it in space, the Russian satellite should be able to grab some close-in images of the satellite to better ascertain what its purpose might be.
The United States has occasionally been the perpetrator, and victim, of space stalking in the past. In 2020, USA 245, an electro-optical espionage satellite in low Earth orbit, was pursued by another Russian satellite, Kosmos 2542.
USA 276, a secret U.S. military satellite, approached the International Space Station in June 2017 at a close range of around 4 miles (6.4 kilometers). A U.S. satellite that was allegedly also utilized for space espionage was found earlier in 1998 by amateurs.
All very sinister, but such activities are not actually illegal.
“Even if the satellite stays 100 miles away from the U.S. satellite, the U.S. government will get all pissy about it and complain,” McDowell said. “But they don’t really have a right to complain because there’s no rule against it.” That is unless a satellite gets dangerously close to another satellite, he explained, with a potential risk of collision. “At what point are you in another satellite’s personal space? That’s the question,” McDowell added.