I didn’t know you could just ask NASA for its defunct spacecraft. But apparently if you’ve got serious enough backing and a good plan, they’re open to negotiation.
NASA announced yesterday that it had signed an agreement with Skycorp, Inc., in Los Gatos, California, to allow the company to “attempt to contact, and possibly command and control,” its more-than-35-year-old International Sun-Earth Explorer-3 (ISEE-3) spacecraft.
ISEE-3 was launched in 1978 and spent three years studying solar winds. It was then redirected to study two comets, Comet Giacobini-Zinner and Halley’s Comet, and since then it has continued to orbit the sun. The spacecraft’s orbit is now approaching the earth, and as our swinging child of the 70s swings back around, Skycorp’s ISEE-3 Reboot Project will attempt to communicate with the ship if that’s still possible.
Skycorp’s hope is to maneuver the spaceship into a gravitationally stable point between the earth and the sun, known as Lagrangian 1 (L1), and then use the ship’s instruments for scientific study. The new data will be shared with the public as an educational tool.
“The intrepid ISEE-3 spacecraft was sent away from its primary mission to study the physics of the solar wind extending its mission of discovery to study two comets.” said John Grunsfeld, astronaut and associate administrator for the Science Mission Directorate at NASA headquarters in Washington. “We have a chance to engage a new generation of citizen scientists through this creative effort to recapture the ISEE-3 spacecraft as it zips by the Earth this summer.”
Find out more about the ISEE-3 Reboot Project here.