'Foreign power' may have derailed Russia spy satellite
The Russian military satellite that failed to reach a proper orbit early this month may have been set off its course by a foreign power, Interfax quoted a space agency official as saying Monday.
Russia on February 1 launched a high-tech Geo-IK-2 craft to help the military draw a three-dimensional map of the Earth and locate the precise positions of various targets.
But the craft briefly went missing only to re-emerge in a wrong orbit that left the craft unable to complete its assigned task.
The Russian military and space agency formed a joint task force to study the accident but has presented no official results thus far.
One unnamed space official told Interfax however that initial evidence suggested that the craft went off target after one of its booster rockets inexplicably reversed course.
"The probable cause may involve electromagnetic intrusion on the automatic controls," the unnamed space official said.
The official did not identify the country he suspected of trying to derail the Russian military mission. But Moscow frequently accuses Washington of attempting to "militarise" space.
The Geo-IK-2 mishap came less than five weeks after President Dmitry Medvedev fired two top space officials for a launch failure caused Russia to delay the deployment of its own navigation system.
Investigators said that accident was caused by a basic fuel miscalculation that made the craft too heavy to reach its required height.
The three Glonass satellites would have completed a system whose research had been started by the Soviet Union in 1976.
© 2011 AFP