Best Chance to Redirect Zombie Spacecraft

Published: 23rd June 2014 06:00 AM  |   Last Updated: 23rd June 2014 12:25 AM   |  A+A-

At first, NASA thought that recovering the zombie craft was more trouble than it was worth, but space enthusiasts persisted, arguing that it could be used to train future scientists and engineers. Calling themselves techno-archaeologists, Dennis Wingo, an engineer and 20 other individuals from all over the US, differed. With the help of numerous members of the original ISEE-3 group, they joined efforts to bring it back to life. If everything goes as planned, the zombie spaceship may end its sojourn after nearly 20 years as a wanderer in space.

The feat would not have been possible but for the dedication of the former NASA employees, working out of an old McDonalds restaurant, and a contribution of $160,000. They were able to “talk” to the spacecraft and receive some data from it after a gap of 15 years when they realised it was still “alive”. Now, they want to put it on a stable orbit around the Earth, reactivate the scientific instruments on board and provide the data on the web so that people can use it. But, they still do not know if it can be turned on after such a long time. If they cannot, then it will continue its lonely journey in space.

The ISEE-3 “zombie” spacecraft, which has been drifting in outer space for nearly 20 years, is again on the verge of resuming its active life. Launched 36 years ago by NASA, the International Sun-Earth Explorer seemed destined to pass by Earth without any sort of fanfare except for a slim chance of crashing into the Moon, or possibly loop aimlessly through the inner solar system over and over. Now, it has come back from the dead and seems to be in good working order. As it nears Earth, experts will try to restart its engines and have their best opportunity to redirect it on another mission.

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