Russia plans to release a free database that details the location of thousands of near-earth objects orbiting the planet, including military objects not listed in the open catalogs of the North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD). U.S. officials fear that the database could compromise the security of American military satellites circling the earth.
The NORAD database compiles details on thousands of satellites that have been launched, regardless of whether they have been destroyed or are still functioning. However, unlike the soon to be public Russian database, it does not disclose data on America’s military or dual-use satellites. Russian officials claim that their database contains 40% more information on man-made items in orbit compared to the NORAD database, some of those items being U.S. military satellites.
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Russian officials claim that they have several times more telescopes and observation stations monitoring the skies than the U.S. and its allies which has allowed them to discover previously unknown satellites. The went on to add that their geographic location allows for pristine sky-viewing weather conditions.
Russia claims that the purpose of the databases is to make orbit operations more secure and hazard-free. However, it will also reveal military-space operations the U.S. government isn’t ready to reveal to its allies and enemies.
This isn’t the first time Russia has proposed creating near-earth satellite databases. During a Vienna meeting of the UN Committee on the Peaceful Uses of Outer Space Russia proposed to create UN-run database that would focus on “collecting, systemizing, sharing and analyzing information on objects and events in outer space.” The plan was opposed by American officials that feared the project would reveal information on defense-related satellite operations.