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Space Communications Hardware Hacking NASA Build

Civilians Try to Lure an Abandoned NASA Spacecraft Back to Earth 53

A New York Times piece (as carried by the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette) outlines a fascinating project operating in unlikely circumstances for a quixotic goal. They want to control, and return to earth, the International Sun-Earth Explorer-3, launched in 1978 but which "appears to be in good working order." Engineer Dennis Wingo, along with like minded folks (of whom he says "We call ourselves techno-archaeologists") has established a business called Skycorp that "has its offices in the McDonald's that used to serve the Navy's Moffett air station, 15 minutes northwest of San Jose, Calif. After the base closed, NASA converted it to a research campus for small technology companies, academia and nonprofits. ... The race to revive the craft, ISEE-3, began in earnest in April. At the end of May, using the Arecibo Observatory radio telescope in Puerto Rico, the team succeeded in talking to the spacecraft, a moment Mr. Wingo described as "way cool." This made Skycorp the first private organization to command a spacecraft outside Earth orbit, he said. The most disheartening part: "No one has the full operating manual anymore, and the fragments are sometimes contradictory." The most exciting? "Despite the obstacles, progress has been steady, and Mr. Wingo said the team should be ready to fire the engines within weeks."
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Civilians Try to Lure an Abandoned NASA Spacecraft Back to Earth

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  • by Noah Haders ( 3621429 ) on Sunday June 15, 2014 @05:01PM (#47242017)
    what are the legal relationships here, I wonder? does this still belong to NASA? or has it been discarded/written off? what if civilians (or military) in China tried to do the same thing, is it fair game?
  • Re:"Earth Bound" (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday June 15, 2014 @08:56PM (#47243029)

    Mostly in Deep Space Network tracking time. The Original mission to Halley's Comet was so far out, it never heard the command to cycle down all the instruments and since it was solar powered it simply kept transmitting waiting for new orders. (It was a "Long" wait..). NASA was so convinced they wouldn't be able to contact it.. time on the DSN wasn't even booked. After they contacted it the crowd source funding was used to "Purchase" precious time on the DNS to perform the Deep Space Location and Ranging operation.. which will help keep it off the rocky shoals of the Moon. Its passing so close to the Moon it would be flying through the Stratosphere if the Moon had an atmosphere like Earth. Then it has to whip around the Dark side of the Moon and plunge into Darkness for the first time in 36 years, since its batteries are long dead, instruments and transmitters will power down.. and they can only hope it revives when it reaches Daylight on the otherside of the Underworld. If it does it will be home free, taking up a temporary parking orbit in one of the Lagrangian points around Earth forever bathed in Sunlight. But the L5 spot is getting rather crowed and it takes up fuel to maintain a stable space and no collide with anything else.. so they are postulating only a brief stay.. then a push off towards another Sun Diver in a few years.

  • The IEEE (Score:4, Interesting)

    by geekoid ( 135745 ) <dadinportland AT yahoo DOT com> on Monday June 16, 2014 @12:46PM (#47247007) Homepage Journal

    had a ton of papers written with the various commands in them.
    I wonder why they can't put the manual together from those?

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