Jeffrey LewisXSS-11 Images Minotaur Upper Stage

Dawn Stover of Popular Science obtained this image through the Freedom of Information Act. The image, taken by the XSS-11 microsatellite, shows the upper stage of the Minotaur 1 that carried the microsatellite into orbit.

If you are interested, here is an AFRL briefing on XSS-11.

Arms Control wrote a pair of stories about the XSS-11 launch in April (here, here) that noted the ASAT capabilities inherent in the XSS program, which is the old Clementine II asteroid interceptor.

The Air Force envisions using microatellites to inspect foreign satellites. “Rules of the Road” for such operations might help prevent a serious incident in the future—particularly in light of the recent collision between NASA’s DART and its target satellite, not to mention Chinese development of microsatellites.

Stover claims that “this is the first photograph taken by a microsatellite of another object in space that has ever been released to the general public.”

That’s not true: The AFRL laboratory released this image taken by the XSS-10, while Surrey Satellite Technology Limited (SSTL) released these images taken by SNAP.

Not first, but definitely cool.


  1. Muskrat (History)

    Why is that all I can think of when I look at that photo is “So long, Scooter”?

    And I don’t even like the guy….