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Banxing-2 is a 47 kg LEO satellite deployed from China's Tiangong-2 on 22 October 2016. It is planned to say in an orbit matched to Tiangong-2 so that it stays in close proximity.

According to Gunter's Space Page:

Banxing 2 was developed and built at the Shanghai Academy of Spaceflight Technology (SAST).

It will photograph Tiangong 2 in orbit and will monitor space debris. It features an Ammonia based propulsion system

The satellite features 25 Megapixel high-resolution full-frame visible light camera and fisheye cameras.

While some spacecraft have been able to image parts of themselves] (e.g. Sentinel-1 and Falcon-9), it has been pointed out that spacecraft-mounted cameras, even on articulated "selfie sticks" would be impractical for full spacecraft coverage, but small, maneuverable robotic satellites with cameras and other instruments might be a much better approach for larger spacecraft to increase awareness of their condition once deployed in space.

Question: Have there been any other, publicly acknowledged examples of camera carrying robotic satellites that have had the ability to carefully navigate around and photograph other spacecraft at close range?

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above: Photo of Shenzou-11 docked with Tiangong-2 taken by Banxing-2. From here. Photo credit: CNSA

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above: Photo of Shenzou-11 docked with Tiangong-2 taken by Banxing-2. From here. Photo credit: CNSA

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above: Artist's conception of Banxing-2. From here. Photo credit: CNSA

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    $\begingroup$ The ISS doesn't have permanent companions that I know off, but many visiting spacecraft makes some photos of the ISS' exterior. Esp. from the Space Shuttle we have some gorgeous shots of the entire ISS. $\endgroup$ – Hobbes Jan 24 '17 at 20:07
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    $\begingroup$ There were some 'camsats' tested for Shuttle but none for ISS to my knowledge. $\endgroup$ – Organic Marble Jan 24 '17 at 21:19
  • $\begingroup$ @OrganicMarble I've removed the limitation to ISS only. That's probably what I was thinking of, and somewhere along the way you may have already mentioned it in an earlier comment . $\endgroup$ – uhoh Jan 25 '17 at 0:24
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In the early days of ISS, when they were building it with the shuttle, there was a soccer ball sized robot camera called AER Cam Sprint.

AER CAM PIC NASA, public domain. Astronaut for scale

They tested it successfully out of the shuttle bay. It had stereo cameras, a light, and cold nitrogen thrusters. It was not autonomous, but was controlled by an astronaut inside. It was envisioned to assist EVA's access the ISS or spacecraft and so on. They lifted of lot of the technology from suit backpacks. https://spaceflight.nasa.gov/station/assembly/sprint/

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    $\begingroup$ Yes, but they never deployed it. I wonder if it could have prevented the challenger wreck if they had seen the damaged tiles using one of these. $\endgroup$ – Johnny Robinson Jan 25 '17 at 23:11
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    $\begingroup$ That's the one I was thinking of. They stopped using it because they thought the chance of it ramming the shuttle and damaging the tiles was greater than the benefit it provided. (It was not very fault tolerant, and this was when NASA was being delusional about ascent debris tile damage). $\endgroup$ – Organic Marble Jan 25 '17 at 23:58
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    $\begingroup$ @Antzi, exact picture I was thinking of! $\endgroup$ – Organic Marble Jan 26 '17 at 0:00
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    $\begingroup$ @JohnnyRobinson according to the linked article: "The free-flyer was remotely controlled by Pilot Steve Lindsey from the Shuttle's aft flight deck using a hand controller, two laptop computers and a window-mounted antenna." I don't think the shuttle had an external "360 degree" WiFi field. Both imaging and control would have been lost as soon as it wasn't visible from the window. This is 20 years ago. It would have been a major project to implement this reliably with 1990's electronics. $\endgroup$ – uhoh Jan 26 '17 at 1:23
  • $\begingroup$ I think that was just a proof of concept test. If they wanted to use it with the ISS they could have installed external antenna and so on. $\endgroup$ – Johnny Robinson Jan 26 '17 at 2:02

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