Luch (Olymp) / SESAT 2 (Express AM-22)

In late December 2014, Russian satellite Luch (Olymp) performed a month-long close approach with Russian communications satellite SESAT 2 (Express AM-22), getting as close as 7 km on January 31, 2015.

Object Name Country Operator
Russia Ministry of Defense
European Telecommunications Satellite Organization (EUTELSAT) N/A

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.

  1. Gunter Dirk Krebs, “Ekspress-AM 22 / SESAT 2,” Gunter’s Space Page, last updated December 11, 2017,
  2. “LUCH Space Activities – Spacecast 14,” Analytical Graphics, Inc., YouTube video, 14:22, June 26, 2019,

Further Reading