The ISEE-3 Spacecraft is being called the “zombie spacecraft” today after it came back from the dead after being inactive and floating in space. Crowd-funding helped this group of scientist to wake the dead craft orbiting high above the Earth and this amazing feat is making headline news today according to Newsmax on May 30.
This is historic on a few levels today as this was the first time that NASA has agreed to relinquish control of one of it’s spacecrafts to a private group. When NASA acknowledged it didn’t have the funding to pump life back into the ISEE-3 Spacecraft, this group of scientist went to work to secure the funding.
Ars Technica reports that a “group of enthusiasts have established a two-way signal with the spacecraft.” This spacecraft was “flung into orbit” by NASA using the Earth’s gravity when it completed its mission. Now the project team has the keys to the spacecraft and they are driving it into a new orbit closer to home.
The project is called the ISEE-3 Reboot Project and it is setting up its command in cooperation with Puerto Rico’s Arecibo Radio Observatory. From there the spacecraft will be remotely controlled. The group of scientists posted a photo of the spacecraft on their website with the caption “Hello Again,” as seen in above picture.
The main goal of this project is to fine-tune the craft to the point where they can fire up the engines and bring it closer to Earth in its orbit. The first successful reboot of the spacecraft took place this week. On the website, the team of scientist posted:
“Over the coming days and weeks our team will make an assessment of the spacecraft’s overall health and refine the techniques required to fire its engines and bring it back to an orbit near Earth.”
The major hurdle has been cleared as the scientist were able to learn a lot this week just from being able to communicate with the craft. The spacecraft is old, it was launched in 1978, so to “talk” to the spacecraft the original software that was used when the old ship was launched needed to come out of the cobwebs.
They are still getting support from NASA, who is providing the scientists with technical data. ISEE-3 is 36-years-old and it has been dormant in space for the last 16 years, but taking it out of its slumber from back here on Earth seems to speak to the craftsmanship that went into the technology of the day and age.