Thursday, February 23, 2006

PopSci: Spy Satellites That Spy On Satellites

Image source:
Popular Science / Harold "Vernon" Baker / Air Force Research Laboratory

Yes, I know its from October 2005, but I just saw this.

Dawn Stover writes in Popular Science.

This is the first photograph taken by a microsatellite of another object in space that has ever been released to the general public. The object near the center is the upper stage of a Minotaur I rocket that was used to launch the Experimental Satellite System-11, commonly known as XSS-11. The photograph was taken by the digital "witness camera" aboard XSS-11, a dishwasher-size microsatellite developed by the Air Force Research Laboratory.

XSS-11 was launched in April and has since conducted numerous "proximity operations"—approaching and maneuvering around the spent Minotaur rocket stage at distances as close as 500 meters (the distance at which this photo was taken, about a third of a mile). Over the next year, the spacecraft will rendezvous with several other U.S.-owned dead or inactive objects in space.

More here.


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