I’ve written about an effort to reconnect with the 36 year old International Sun-Earth Explorers (ISSE) spacecraft and direct it back to its original solar science mission:
- Reawakening and returning a 36 year old spacecraft to its original mission
- ICE/ISEE-3 spacecraft signals picked up by amateur space radio buffs
Dennis Wingo (Skycorp) gives the background of the spacecraft and explains that since NASA has no funding to reconnect with it, a volunteer project is underway to do it : The International Sun-Earth Explorer (ISEE-3) Reboot Project, Bringing an Old Bird Back to the Earth, and Back to Life – Watts Up With That?
There is now a crowd-funding campaign to support the project:
- ISEE-3 Reboot Project by Space College, Skycorp, and SpaceRef – RocketHub
- Can crowdfunding resurrect this 35-year-old space probe? – DVICE
The idea is a simple one: contact the ISEE-3, tell it to fire its engine, and get it into a stable Earth orbit. Once there, it can resume operations, collecting data for its original mission as well as potentially chasing more comets. NASA approves of the project in principle, but unfortunately, the agency doesn’t have the funds to support it financially, thanks to budget cuts and changing priorities. However, the project has brought together a large team of NASA scientists, coders, and engineers, and they have access to a radio telescope that can communicate with ISEE-3.
The project needs $125,000 to carry out its mission. This money will fund the very difficult task of figuring out how to use today’s technology to communicate with a spacecraft built over 35 years ago. The original hardware for ISEE-3’s communication capabilities no longer exists, so the team will have to recreate a virtual version from scratch,but ISEE-3 is in very good, and knowledgeable, hands: several members of the team are responsible for the Lunar Orbiter Image Recovery Project, which also depended on harnessing obsolete technology.
This video shows the orbital trajectory change needed:
More info at Space College: ISEE-3 Archives.