Soyuz MS-09


  • The Kosmos-2558 was launched in August 2022
  • USA-326 is said to be a spy satellite program
  • Kosmos-2558 could be taking imagery of the satellite

A mysterious Russian military satellite appears to be stalking a similarly confidential U.S. military satellite in space.

Russia's spacecraft, Kosmos-2558, was recently launched into space and is in the same orbital plane as the U.S. satellite USA-326. Space observers noticed that the two regularly pass each other closely, according to Business Insider.

Based on observation, Kosmos-2558 is seemingly chasing USA-326, and without any formal explanation from Moscow, it appears that it is trying to gather data from the American spacecraft.

The Russian spacecraft was the third satellite that was launched to be an "inspector," which could gather data up close on another satellite.

An inspector satellite, which has the same features as a Maxar satellite that takes pictures of Earth, could generate extremely detailed photographs when trying to capture its target.

"That's just amazing," astrophysicist from Harvard Jonathan McDowell told the Insider about images generated by Maxar satellites.

"And that's for a satellite that's not designed to look at other satellites. It was designed to look at the Earth."

If observations on the activity of Kosmos-2558 are correct, then it could be taking high-definition imagery of the U.S. satellite.

As the two satellites are orbiting Earth in the same plane but at different speeds, the Russian spacecraft could take a look at the USA-326 when it closes in.

"If you imagine two athletes running around a track on slightly different lanes of the track, and one's faster than the other, now and again, one laps the other and passes close," McDowell said.

McDowell estimates that Kosmos-2558 has closely passed in on the USA-326 at least four times at a 50-kilometer distance – near enough to get detailed images but far enough for the two not to collide.

"I see it as nosy rather than aggressive," he added.

"That's irresponsible behavior," the commander of the U.S. Space Command, Gen. James H. Dickinson, told NBC News after the launch of Kosmos-2558.

"We see that it's in a similar orbit to one of our high-value assets for the U.S. Government."

However, the latest development on the cat-and-mouse chase between the two spacecraft is that the USA-326 recently jumped to a higher orbit, increasing its distance from Kosmos-2558.

The Pentagon claims that USA-326 was launched to be an "overhead reconnaissance" or a spy satellite program for gathering intelligence by observing Earth.

Dickinson said that the U.S. will continue tracking the Russian spacecraft.

A stream of particles, which NASA says appears to be liquid and possibly coolant, sprays out of the Soyuz spacecraft on the International Space Station