Three months after the Russian Luch (Olymp) satellite was launched on September 28, 2014, publicly-available space object data suggest that the satellite performed a close approach maneuver in GEO. In late December 2014, Luch left its initial orbital position at 54.0°E, drifted westward, and approached SESAT 2 (Express AM-22)—located at 53.0°E. From January 1 to 31, 2015, Luch was located at approximately 52.9°E, getting as close as 7 km to SESAT 2. After the close approach, Luch appeared to initiate an eastward drift, until reaching Express AM-33, and beginning a second close approach.
We have every reason to believe that [Luch‘s close approaches with Express AM-22 and -33] were cooperative engagements.Bob Hall, Technical Director, AGI ComSpOC
SESAT 2 is a Russian communication satellite that leases several of its Ku-band transponders to Eutelsat, a European commercial satellite operator.1 In a 2019 interview, Bob Hall, the technical director of AGI’s Commercial Space Operations Center hypothesized that Luch’s movements near SESAT 2 were “cooperative engagements,” due to SESAT 2’s Russian ties.2
Learn more about Luch’s historical behavior here.