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Private Group Makes Contact with 36-Year-Old NASA Spacecraft

Red tape and a moderate earthquake did not deter a private group from meeting its goal of making contact with a 36-year-old NASA spacecraft that has been slumbering in deep space since 1997. Now, members are trying to redirect the path of the vintage International Sun-Earth Explorer 3 (ISSE-3) probe before it's too late. The engineers, programmers and citizen scientists — working under the name ISEE-3 Reboot Project — "spoke" with the probe Thursday (May 29) using the Arecibo Observatory in Puerto Rico. This was after a 5.8-magnitude earthquake shook the area earlier this week during testing, temporarily shutting down telescope operations. "It took a lot of preparation and perseverance," said co-leader Keith Cowing, who remained behind in Virginia for co-ordination while other co-lead Dennis Wingo worked at Arecibo. Wingo's team has at the Arecibo Observatory for two weeks and is expected to leave Friday (May 30). The team technically had the capability to command the spacecraft last Friday (May 23), but under a Space Act Agreement with NASA had to have the agency's approval before making the move. That approval finally came through Thursday (May 29). More via Space.com.

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