University of Colorado at Boulder University of Colorado CU Home Search A to Z Index Map
Laboratory for Atmospheric and Space Physics

The Miniature X-ray Solar Spectrometer (MinXSS) CubeSat is a student project to design, build, integrate, test, and operate a 34 cm x 10 cm x 10 cm satellite. Specifically, the intensity of the soft x-ray solar spectrum from 0.4 keV (30 Å) to 30 keV (0.4 Å) is measured, with resolution of ~0.15 keV full-width half-max. This region is of particular interest for observations of solar flares and active regions. The MinXSS project heavily involves its graduate students with scientists and engineers at the University of Colorado, Boulder and the Laboratory for Atmospheric and Space Physics (LASP). Over 40 graduate students, 3 undergraduate students, and one high school student have worked on MinXSS.

Making of MinXSS


MinXSS-1 launched on ULA/Orbital-ATK OA-4 from Cape Canaveral at 2015-12-06 08:44:57 UTC.  The high resolution (4k) launch video is embedded below.

Deployment from the ISS was beautiful. It occurred at 2016-05-16 10:05:26 UTC. A high resolution (4k) video compilation of the photos taken of the deployment by astronauts on the ISS is embedded below.

A year later, MinXSS-1 burned up in the atmosphere as planned. We were in normal science operations up until just 2 days before burn up; when we received telemetry telling us that parts of the spacecraft hit temperatures > 300 ºC. The last received beacon was from a HAM operator in Australia at 2017-05-06 02:37:26 UTC.

MinXSS-1 was on orbit for 354 days, 16 hours, 32 minutes, and 0 seconds.

Deployment of MinXSS-1 from the International Space Station

Launch of MinXSS-1


MinXSS-2 launched on a SpaceX Falcon 9 for the SSO-A SmallSat Express from Vandenberg Air Force Base at 2018-12-03 18:34:00 UTC. The launch video is embedded below.

Deployment from the Spaceflight Lower Free Flyer occurred about 3 hours later at 21:28:22 UTC. Beacons were picked up shortly thereafter. Commissioning was completed on 2018-12-07. Automated operations with our three ground stations went into effect on 2018-12-11.

An SD-card / processor / communications anomaly occurred on 2019-01-07 18:35:38 UTC (more details here), preventing any further communication with the spacecraft. While a serendipitous hard-reset like the one that happened on CSSWE could bring the spacecraft back, it is presently considered lost. An improved version of the instrument with a concentric, dual-zone aperture design was quickly built up and integrated with the INSPIRESat-1 spacecraft, scheduled to launch later in 2020.

Launch of MinXSS-2


INSPIRESat-1 contains the next generation MinXSS instrument called the Dual-zone Aperture X-ray Solar Spectrometer (DAXSS) and is scheduled to launch on a PSLV as a rideshare with RISAT 1A from the Satish Dhawan Space Centre in Sriharikota, India at 2022-02-14 00:29:00 UTC. Launch video will be embedded below when it becomes available, but keep an eye on their YouTube channel if you want to watch live.