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Rescued space probe fires its thrusters for the first time in almost 20 years

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The resurrected ISEE-3 space probe fired its thrusters for the first time in almost 20 years this weekend. The probe was launched by NASA in 1978 to measure solar winds, but decommissioned in 1997 as the craft drifted farther and farther from Earth. But in 2008, a group of former NASA employees discovered the craft was still transmitting a signal, and launched a massive crowdfunding effort to return the probe to active duty.

This weekend, the team took a huge first step in bringing the craft back in line, successfully firing the ISEE-3's thrusters and spinning the craft into a new orientation that will make it easier to communicate with. It took several days' worth of test commands, but eventually the team's signal made it through. The team also picked up some useful signals from the probe's magnetometer, detecting a solar event on July 1st. The next step will come on Tuesday, when the group plans to use the new thruster power to change the ISEE-3's trajectory.