The XSS-10 microsatellite
Posted: January 26, 2003

The Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL) is building and demonstrating a new class of low-cost satellites -- referred to as "micro-satellites" -- weighing less than 100 kilograms. These new satellites are being flown under the Experimental Spacecraft System (XSS) Microsatellite Demonstration Project.

In conjunction with the Air Force Space Command, Air Force Space and Missiles Systems Center, the Naval Research Laboratory, and industry, missions are underway to actively evaluate future applications of micro-satellite technologies to include: inspection; rendezvous and docking; repositioning; and techniques for closein proximity maneuvering around on orbit assets.

Key technologies

  • Lightweight propulsion system
  • Guidance, navigation & control (GNC)
  • Miniaturized communications system
  • Primary lithium polymer batteries
  • Integrated camera and star sensor
XSS-10, a 28 kilogram microsatellite will be launched as a secondary payload aboard a Delta 2 launch vehicle carrying a Global Positioning Satellite (GPS) satellite. This mission will demonstrate the complex interactions of line-of-sight guidance with basic inertial maneuvering. Launch date is currently planned for January 2003.

The micro-satellite is attached to the Delta 2 second stage. Once the second stage separates from the GPS satellite, the microsatellite will wait for a sunlit Air Force Space Control Network pass before ejecting from the second stage. Once ejected, the microsatellite will commence an autonomous inspection sequence around the second stage, and live video will be transmitted to ground stations. The entire mission will last approximately 24 hours.

Pre-launch briefing
Launch timeline - Chart with times and descriptions of events to occur during the launch.

Global Positioning System - Description of the U.S. Air Force's space-based navigation network.

GPS constellation - Chart shows the current status of the orbiting GPS satellite fleet.

Delta 2 rocket - Overview of the Delta 2 7925-model rocket used to launch GPS satellites.

SLC-17 - The launch complex where Delta rockets fly from Cape Canaveral.

Delta directory - See our coverage of preview Delta rocket flights.

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