The idea behind the invention is that through rearrangement of solar panels, a spacecraft can reduce its visibility and avoid inspection by foreign spy satellites.

Russian space agency Roscosmos patented a spacecraft which can change its shape if approached by a foreign spy satellite, according to a descriptive note attached to the patent.

“The invention allows reduction of noticeability of spacecraft via change of reflective surface of solar battery panels,” the note says.

The spacecraft can rearrange its solar panels, from flat to hemispherical, reducing its reflective surface and visibility, increasing the chance that the inspector satellite will detect and inspect the protected spacecraft.

When the spy satellite moves on, the solar panels deploy again, the note says.

The invention is supposed to mask the spacecraft from so-called inspector satellites, which use LIDAR and other surveillance instrumentation to remotely probe other spacecraft and conduct diagnosis and data collection. Earlier reports indicated that Russian space surveillance detected intensive relocation of US-made GSSAP military inspector satellites in geostationary orbit.