Jeffrey LewisXSS-11 Launch Today, Monday, 11 April 2005

The Experimental Spacecraft System (XSS)-11 is scheduled for launch from Vandenberg Air Force base between 6:34 to 7 am PDT (9:34-10:00 am EDT) today (Monday, April 11). (More)

The XSS-11 (right) was scheduled to launch in mid-March, before a problem with the Orbital Sciences Minotaur rocket delayed the launch.

XSS-11 is the second in a series of microsatellites. Over the next 6-12 months, XSS-11 will demonstrate the ability to maneuver around another resident space object (RSO). The RSO has not been publicly identified, but the Air Force says the object is inactive and wholly owned by the United States.

NASA’s interest stems from XSS-11’s inspection capability — the Air Force tells anyone who will listen that XSS-like satellites could prevent another Columbia-like disaster.

But the Air Force’s motives are less lofty. XSS is the renamed “Clementine II” space weapons program. The Air Force seldom mentions the program’s provenance, but admits that the XSS satellites are “pathfinders” for “future autonomous operations” including the Microsat Payload Imager and, presumably, the Flexible Orbit Counterspace Microsat (I think this term is now passé).

Early briefings indicated the XSS-11 “will carry deployable object for initial tests.” I don’t know if that is still the case, although the Air Force noted XSS-11 “carries no ‘microsatellite payloads’ of any kind.”

The XSS-11 effort is funded within PE 0603401F, Advanced Spacecraft Techology. Total spending on XSS-11 over FY 01-06 has been approximately $73 M (about twice the original estimate).

The Air Force hopes the XSS program “will lead to [a] low-cost, mass-producible design — 10 microsatellites for < $100 M.”

We’ll be churning out killer microsatellites like sausages.



  1. Robert Anderson (History)

    Thanks for this page and the info on S-11. I am in Albuquerque, NM doing research and education to the local peace community on these type weapons systems. Lockheed Martin runs this town so we are interested in it even more.

    Can you keep me posted on more of your work and items like this that we might be able to use here.

    Stop the War Machine
    Robert Anderson, Ph D
    202 Harvard SE
    Albuquerque, NM 87106

  2. Robert Anderson (History)

    I was looking at your home page. It must be a blog thing. Is there an index to what material is spread below on the page? It takes forever to stumble around all these items.


    [Try the archive. ACW.]