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From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Mission typeMilitary, ELINT
COSPAR ID2014-058A[1]
SATCAT no.40258[1]
Mission duration15 years
Spacecraft properties
ManufacturerJSC Information Satellite Systems
Launch mass3,000 kilograms (6,600 lb)
Start of mission
Launch date28 September 2014, 20:23 (2014-09-28UTC20:23Z) UTC
Launch siteBaikonur 81/24[1]
Orbital parameters
Reference systemGeocentric 167° East
Perigee altitude35,780 kilometres (22,230 mi)[1]
Apogee altitude35,798 kilometres (22,244 mi)[1]
Inclination0.05 degrees[1]
Period1436.24 minutes[1]
Epoch5 October 2015, 09:00 UTC[1]

Olymp-K (Russian: Олимп-К meaning Olympus) is a Russian geostationary satellite built for the Russian Ministry of Defence and Federal Security Service (FSB). The satellite is also referred to as "Luch".[2] It is believed to be a signals intelligence satellite.[2]


Olymp-K was launched on 28 September 2014. The Proton-M rocket with a Briz-M upper stage launched from Baikonur Cosmodrome launchpad 81/24 in Kazakhstan at 20:23 UTC.[3][1][4] After four burns of the Briz-M upper stage it was placed into geosynchronous transfer orbit.[4][1] In a press release on 28 September 2014, Roscosmos referred to the satellite as "Luch".[5]


Following its launch, the Olymp-K satellite made several manoeuvres before settling at 18.1° West longitude around 4 April 2015. The satellite was then positioned in an orbit directly between Intelsat 901, which was located at 18° West, and Intelsat 7, located at 18.2° West.[4] It remained in geosynchronous orbit between the satellites for five months. At times, Olymp-K performed colocation manoeuvres, positioning itself around 10 kilometres from the satellites.[4] In September 2015, the satellite was manoeuvred to a position at 24.4° West, adjacent to the Intelsat 905 satellite.[6] While JFCC SPACE spokesperson and Air Force Captain Nicholas Mercurio said there were three occasions where the Olymp-K satellite had come within five kilometres of another satellite, an industry source indicated that Air Force data were predictions based on drift rates and that Olymp-K's approach had not brought it closer than 10 kilometres to the Intelsat satellites.[4] As of December 2019, the satellite is located at 70.6° East Longitude.[7]

In 2018 France criticised Russia for manoeuvring the satellite close to the French Athena-Fidus satellite. Florence Parly, the French defence minister, accused Russia of "an act of espionage".[2]

Analysis and response

Intelsat criticized the maneouvres, with Intelsat General president Kay Sears saying that "this is not normal behavior and we're concerned."[4] Attempts by Intelsat to contact the owners of the Russian satellite directly and via the US Defense Department did not receive a response. Members of the space community consider the incident to be among the first documented instances of a foreign military satellite approaching a commercial operator in such a manner.[4]

In a 5 October analysis of Russian proximity and rendezvous operations written for the Space Review, Secure World Foundation technical adviser Brian Weeden highlighted Olymp-K's movements. In his paper, he wrote that many Russian space program observers believe the satellite mission involves signals intelligence or communications.[8][4] Observers also speculated whether there is a connection between Olymp-K and the Yenisey A1 (Luch 4) experimental satellite.[6] A Kommersant report indicated that Olymp-K would provide secure governmental communications as well as electronic intelligence (SIGINT).[9] Sources have also reported that the satellite has an onboard laser communications device and will provide the GLONASS system with navigation correction signals.[6]

Olymp-K's maneouvres were reported to have led to several classified meetings within the U.S. Defense Department.[4]

See also


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i j "2014-058". 2014. Retrieved 2016-11-29.
  2. ^ a b c Chrisafis, Angelique (7 September 2018). "'Act of espionage': France accuses Russia of trying to spy on satellite data". The Guardian. Retrieved 28 July 2019.
  3. ^ Zak, Anatoly (19 October 2015). "Proton successfully returns to flight delivering a secret Olymp satellite". Russian Space Web.
  4. ^ a b c d e f g h i Gruss, Mike (9 October 2015). "Russian Satellite Maneuvers, Silence Worry Intelsat". SpaceNews.
  5. ^ "Космический аппарат «Луч» выведен на расчетную орбиту". Новости Роскосмоса (in Russian). 28 September 2014. Archived from the original on 29 September 2014.
  6. ^ a b c Krebs, Gunter Dirk. "Luch (Olimp-K)". Gunter's Space Page. Retrieved 30 November 2016.
  7. ^ Roberts, Thomas G. (2020). "Unusual Behavior in GEO: Luch (Olymp-K)". CSIS Aerospace Security. Retrieved 1 Jul 2020.
  8. ^ Weeden, Brian (5 October 2015). "Dancing in the dark redux: Recent Russian rendezvous and proximity operations in space (page 2)". The Space Review.
  9. ^ Сафронов, Иван (24 March 2014). "Анатолия Шилова приняли на госслушбу". Газета "Коммерсантъ" (in Russian). p. 2. Archived from the original on 3 March 2016.
This page was last edited on 19 January 2021, at 04:09
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