July 2014 Archives

ISEE-3 Reboot Project Status 31 July 2014

We successfully commanded ISEE-3 from the 21 meter dish at Morehead State University today. Transponder A was commanded into science telemetry mode. Troubleshooting of the higher data rate issue is ongoing.

Meanwhile, we've begun mailing out gifts to our donors.

ISEE-3 In The News

Vintage NASA Spacecraft to Tackle Interplanetary Science, Space.com

"A private team is priming a 36-year-old NASA spacecraft to perform new science as it travels through interplanetary space after attempts to move the probe into a position closer to Earth failed. The volunteer team initially hoped to park the vintage International Sun-Earth Explorer 3 spacecraft, called ISEE-3 for short, in a stable location between the Earth and the sun called L-1. But those attempts ended when controllers discovered there wasn't enough nitrogen pressurant left in the probe's tanks to help make course corrections."

ISEE-3 In The News

Vintage NASA Probe Out of Gas, But Still Alive, Private Team Says, Space.com

"Alas, ISEE-3 spacecraft, we almost caught you. Attempts to move a 36-year-old NASA probe closer to Earth have failed, but only because the vintage spacecraft is simply out of gas, according to the team of volunteer engineers now controlling the spacecraft. The spacecraft, called the International Sun-Earth Explorer 3 (ISEE-3), has run out of vital nitrogen gas needed to pressurize its propulsion system, according the private team of engineers. The team, which calls itself the ISEE-3 Reboot Project, has spent recent weeks puzzling through an issue that shut down attempts to send the ISEE-3 spacecraft on a new trajectory on July 10. With all options exhausted, the team now plans to do science in a different location instead."

Crowd Sourced ISEE-3 Monitoring

ISEE-3 Current Location 26 July 2014

ISEE-3 Location Update 25 July 2014

ISEE-3 Reboot Project In The News

The 1970s Spacecraft Is Doing Science Again!, io9

"The citizen science team wanted to execute burns to drop the craft back in its 1978 orbit, but the spacecraft disagreed. The original hope was to execute burns to blaze past the moon and drop the spacecraft puttering about in a L-1 halo orbit. Alas, although ISEE-3 had enough juice to do a power-up spin to reach its optimal rotation rate, the nitrogen propellant has bled away. The aging craft is willing, but after 30 billion miles, it just doesn't have enough gas to change its trajectory. Instead, it'll do a lunar flyby, and resume its heliocentric orbit, this time blazing a trail ahead of us instead of stalking the Earth. But here's the thing: this time, it'll be doing science."

ISEE-3 spacecraft presentation in Guildford Saturday, Southgate ARC

"Achim Vollhardt DH2VA and Mario Lorenz DL5MLO from AMSAT-DL Bochum will be giving a presentation on ISEE-3 (ICE) to the AMSAT-UK International Space Colloquium at the Holiday Inn, Guildford, GU2 7XZ. The event is open to all ."

Announcing the ISEE-3 Interplanetary Citizen Science Mission

After a successful reawakening the venerable ISEE-3 spacecraft is about to begin the first interplanetary citizen science mission.

In April 2014 our team set about bringing the 36 year old ISEE-3 (International Sun Earth Explorer 3) spacecraft back into science operations. Our plan was to contact the spacecraft, evaluate its health, command it to resume normal operations, fire its engines, and resume the orbit it originally occupied in 1978. Once science operations resumed, our plan was to make the data openly available to citizen scientists - in fact, anyone, anywhere - as soon as we received it from the spacecraft.

ISEE-3 Status Report 23 July 2014

We had a session with ISEE-3 today via Arecibo with support from AMSAT-DL/Bochum team in Germany. We engaged in "hammer mode" wherein we tried to open and close all of the latch valves repeatedly with the hope that this might get the propulsion system working. It did not. We then began to transition the spacecraft to science mode by turning on two additional science instruments. We'll post a detailed update tomorrow.

Planetary Radio Segment on ISEE-3

Keith Cowing and the Outrageous ISEE-3 Rebooters , Planetary Radio

"They have generated excitement, enthusiasm and support throughout the world. The ISEE-3 Reboot Project has succeeded in gaining control over the 36-year old spacecraft, but will they be able to move it."

ISEE-3 Current Location 22 July 2014

ISEE-3 Current Location 21 July 2014

Education and Public Outreach: Lunar Orbiter and ISEE-3

This poster presentation by Keith Cowing and Dennis Wingo was produced for the NASA SSERVI Exploration Science Forum 21-23 July 2014. Click on image for full poster (PDF)


Any space mission worth doing should have an education and public outreach (EPO) component. An EPO effort helps to efficiently disseminate information to those with a specific interest in a particular mission. Done properly it also serves as a means to spur interest in space exploration in general amongst a much broader audience. With the use of various Internet and social media resources an effective EPO effort can now reach an audience in ways that were not possible a decade ago.

ISEE-3 In The New York Times

Lost and Found in Space: Rebooting ISEE-3: Space for All, op ed, Keith Cowing, New York Times

"NASA likes to say that "space is hard," but to make itself relevant to the people whose taxes fund it, it must get outside its comfort zone. To its credit, NASA saw the potential of our project to reach beyond the traditional audience. The interactions via social media with our supporters have borne this out. Imagine what feats of exploration might be possible if an empowered and engaged citizenry realized that exploring space is really something anyone can do."

ISEE-3 In The News

Vintage NASA Probe, Once Abandoned in Space, Still Has Fuel, Space.com

"After refusing to fire its engines last week for a course correction, a vintage NASA spacecraft did produce a bit of thrust Wednesday (July 16), proving it still has at least some fuel left after 36 years in space."

Citizen Scientists Get ISEE-3 Satellite Engines to Fire!, The Mary Sue

"The amazing people behind the ISEE-3 reboot project have gotten its engines to fire! They previously had trouble due to a lack of nitrogen to push fuel through the old satellite's fuel lines and into the engines, but some creative use of the satellite's tank heaters seems to have paid off and gotten things working."

ISEE-3 Status Report 18 July 2014

During our pass at Arecibo today we managed to get some propulsion out of thruster K. We're looking at how this was accomplished with an eye toward repeating it. We expect to do a DSN pass on 24 July so as to further refine the spacecraft's location. We are also working to start communicating with ISEE-3 from Morehead State University in the very near future. We also have one of many documentary teams at McMoons today to document our efforts.

ISEE-3 Status 17 July 2014

Our window with Arecibo opens tomorrow (Friday) at 12:13 pm ET. We will continue with our plumbing and electrical testing and see if we can get the propulsion system operating again.

ISEE-3 Reboot Project In The News

Space.com: To Restart Vintage NASA Probe, Private Team Turns to the 'Borg

"No one on our team is an experienced hydrazine expert," he said. "After receiving a few e-mails from people who offered suggestions on what might have happened, [we] decided to throw the problem out to the world. I was astonished at the response."
The July 10 post on the ISEE-3 blog and NASA Watch (Cowing's website) generated many suggestions, including some from "the most qualified professionals in the world," Wingo said, while declining to name names due to privacy concerns."

Crowdsourced Know-How May Put Salvaged ISEE-3 Spacecraft Back on Track, NBC

"After a series of setbacks, the decades-old ISEE-3 spacecraft revived by a team of experts may be getting back on track -- following input from a global community of aerospace experts. Space College, the group that resurrected the International Sun-Earth Explorer probe, wrote in a blog post Tuesday that asking for help on the project resulted in a flood of input, some coming from "the most qualified professionals in the world ... literally, the very top tier of experts."

How Arecibo Observatory Transmits to the ISEE-3 Spacecraft, Planetary Society

"Since the ISEE-3 project required quick implementation at Arecibo, we opted for manual switching between transmitting and receiving. Thus, at least two people needed to be in the telescope dome for when we'd communicate with the spacecraft, and at least one person needed to be in the control room directing the turret to rotate. This entire ballet was complex, and orchestrated over phone lines."

ISEE-3 Status Report 16 July 2014

During our interaction with ISEE-3 today we tried a variety of valve and thruster selections using both sides of the propulsion system combined with tank and fuel line heating. Although we met with limited success we did get several instances of thrust (the main intent) and also a change in the Fine Sun Sensor angle of the spacecraft. So, something changed the trajectory of ISEE-3 albeit slightly. Also, the temperatures in the fuel tanks only rose a little bit which is what you'd expect of they were still full of fuel. This is good news since we were concerned for a while that there might have been a loss of fuel and/or pressurant. So ... we're analyzing the data and trying to sleuth out how we got the momentary thrust and then apply that to our next interaction with the spacecraft. We have applied for an extension to our license from NASA to transmit to the spacecraft and are awaiting their reply.

ISEE-3 Current Location 15 July 2014

ISEE-3 Reboot Project In The News

Space Dream Revived in an Abandoned McDonald's, Bloomberg View

"Can a group of citizen scientists working out of an abandoned California McDonald's re-energize U.S. space exploration? Thirty years ago, that question would have been the basis for a science-fiction novel, at best. Today, however, not only are the scientists and the McDonald's real, but the group has also commandeered a 36-year-old NASA space probe bound for an August fly-by of the Earth and moon."

The ancient mariner - A group of enthusiasts are waking up an old satellite, Economist

"The ISEE-3 Reboot Project, as these enthusiasts call themselves, exists to revive an old spacecraft. A very old one. It was launched in 1978, and has thus spent almost two-thirds of the entire space age, which began in 1957 with the launch of Sputnik, in orbit around the sun. But in 1997 NASA decided ISEE-3 had done its job as a solar observatory and comet-chaser, and shut it down. Just in case somebody in the future wanted to try to revive it, the shutdown left the craft in standby mode. And that, as their name suggests, is what the Rebooters are trying to do."

Dennis Wingo: We are Now Living in a Science Fiction World. In the science fiction universe of Star Trek, set several hundred years in the future, when we are a spacefaring civilization, humanity encounters a species called the Borg. The Borg are a conglomeration of species who are assimilated into a collective mind numbering in the hundreds of billions. All of the Borg are connected to each other through a communications link that allows each of them to share each others thoughts, though in a manner that erases individuality.

This week, with the call that our ISEE-3 reboot team put out to the internet for help in debugging our propulsion system problem, I have come to realize that a significant portion of humanity has reached a Borg like state, one where the internet has become a collective mind for communications and knowledge sharing. We still have our individuality, we can still decouple at will from the collective mind, but in a way that few philosophers or technologists have envisioned, we are connected in a way never before thought possible. The implications are staggering, and here is how our little ISEE-3 project is an example of the operation of the collective mind.

ISEE-3 Status Report 15 July 2014

Our next window at Arecibo is tomorrow (Wednesday) between 12:19 pm and 3:03 pm ET. During that opportunity we intend to attempt a deep space plumbing repair on board ISEE-3 and then fire its engines.

Right now we still only need approximately 10 m/sec of Delta V for the Trajectory Correction Maneuver (TCM) so we're looking good in terms of fuel reserves. Based on the number of thruster firings we achieve during that plumbing repair session we'll need to do some additional firings - possibly over the course of several days - all of which will constitute the TCM.

If you have ever had to clean our your car's carburetor and fuel lines then you have an idea of what we will be attempting. More details to follow.

Photos: An Insider's Look at ISEE-3 - Volume 2

"I have been following your effort to revive ISSE-3 with great interest since I worked on this project as an employee of Fairchild Space Company. Attached is a picture of the satellite in Hanger AE at the Cape. I am the second person from the right end and Rich Kramer is standing next to me on my right hand. On my left hand is Dick Collingwood and the three of us were the last people to work on the satellite on the pad prior to launch. Wishing you the best of luck. Ed Grebenstein"

Images copyright and courtesy of Ed Grebenstein. Click on images to enlarge

More images below

ISEE-3 Telemetry and Location Update 13 July 2014

Photos: An Insider's Look at ISEE-3 - Volume 1

These images were provided by Todd Kramer. His father, Richard Kramer, worked on the ISEE-3 project and took these pictures. These photos show the final assembly and testing at NASA GSFC in May 1978 after ISEE-3 was moved there from the Fairchild facility in Germantown, MD. We'll be posting more photos from Todd that show the spacecraft being transported to KSC, prepared for launch, and then launched. All photos are copyright Todd Kramer. Click on image to enlarge.

More images below

ISEE-3 Reboot Project In The News

Distributed Rocket Science is a Thing Now, io9

Less than two hours after sending out a distress signal for help, engineers who worked on exactly these types of propulsion systems emerged from the digital wilderness to offer their hard-won experience. What the team learned was a mix of good and bad: solubility probably wasn't the problem impeding the satellite's thrusters. Awesome, they don't need to fix that! Boo, they only have about two or three more options of things that are fixably bad to work on. And if none of those are the problem? Then this will be a glorious, exciting, exuberant failure, and ISEE-3 will continue on its orbit about the sun, leaving us behind once more. Good luck, team. We're cheering for you.

Volunteer engineers struggle to get ISEE-3 back in gear, The Space Reporter

Attempts to shift the craft's trajectory began on Tuesday, but ISEE-3 failed to accelerate. The team first thought that the craft suffered from a stuck valve, but after investigating further, they began to suspect that it did not have enough nitrogen left to provide pressure to its fuel system. If the team is unable to change ISEE-3's course, then the craft will fly around the moon on August 10 before resuming its orbit around the sun. The volunteer engineers look to gain more information about the craft's condition during Friday's radio communications session. Even if they fail to bring ISEE-3 into a stable orbit, the team still hopes to use it for scientific purposes while it is in the inner solar system.

The Tale of a Vintage Spacecraft That'll Never Make it Home, Discover

So we're left with the question "Is it better to have tried and failed than not to have tried at all?" Cowing seems to think so. As he told SpaceNews on July 9, "We did stuff that was widely seen as impossible, improbable, and impractical. You need to focus on the absurd things that are possible." And it's focused minds on the usefulness of the past. The relentless advancement of technology is good for Mars rovers and Netflix streaming speeds, but it also means we abandon still-useful gadgets. And magnetic readings from the sun are magnetic readings from the sun, whether they come from a silicon-encrusted modern craft or a disco-era one.

Software Defined Radio and ISEE-3

The ISEE-3 Reboot Mission: a dream SDR application, Balint Seeber, Ettus Research

"Upon arriving at Arecibo, I knew I was in the right place when I walked outside the rear of the Visiting Science Quarters and found a dipole antenna in the backyard. This was in fact a riometer experiment, and the data acquisition board and laptop were left on my room's table. While exploring the main facility itself, one truly finds themselves in RF heaven. From the first glimpse of the top of one of the three towers supporting the platform that is suspended above the dish, to riding the cable car up to the platform itself with the dish appearing in a slow reveal, to jogging around the perimeter of the dish, the scale of the place is incredible. This, along with stories of birds being cooked by the S-band RADAR, and only 1 dB of loss across the RF waveguide that extends from the 2.5 MW (peak power) 430 MHz klystrons next to the control room, across the cat walk, and into the Gregorian Dome, conveys the seriously large (and tiny) numbers the science conducted at Arecibo deals with."

ISEE-3 Status Report 10 July 2014

We spent all day yesterday with space propulsion experts. We have identified a series of options including hydrazine tank heating and a long series of pulse attempts to (possibly) clear the lines. We have most certainly not given up on this spacecraft yet. It is doing science and will continue to do so for years to come.

We have a crowdsourced research project for our ISEE-3 Reboot fans. One of our volunteers, Karl-Max Wagner from Germany has an interesting idea. Did the Nitrogen pressurizing gas dissolve in the Hydrazine in the tanks?

This is something that we would like to research and for efficiencies sake and to get the job done quicker, we would like our project fans out there to help us in this research. I am reading an old USAF document on this now and it may be nothing, but it also may be something. We need to research the following:

- What is the solubility of Nitrogen in Hydrazine?
- What is the temperature dependence?
- Most important, what is the time required to dissolve 1 kg of Nitrogen in 15 kg of Hydrazine? This is an approximation for both tank systems of course.

This is important. Don't just throw stuff on the wall, help us research this.


Dennis Wingo

Send your thoughts to wingod@skycorpinc.com or post them in the comments section below.

ISEE-3 Reboot Project In The News

Space Probe Might Lack Nitrogen to Push It Home, NY Times

Even though they might not be able to capture the spacecraft, Mr. Cowing said they were devising an alternative in which ISEE-3 would collect scientific data and send it back to Earth. "There's a Plan B," he said. "We're going to listen to the spacecraft as long as it talks."

Bid to 'reboot' aging NASA satellite is scuttled as fuel system fails, LA Times

On Wednesday, members of the ISEE-3 Reboot Project spent two hours attempting to diagnose and repair the problem by "jiggling" fuel valves on and off and instructing the 36-year-old craft to fire several of its 12 thrusters. When these attempts failed to work, engineers concluded that the satellite's fuel system had lost critical pressure. "We have exhaustively tested the propulsion system with no good results," Dennis Wingo, chief executive of Skycorp Inc., and leader of the privately run project, said on his Twitter account.

Curtain Falls on ISEE-3 Reboot Project as Propulsion System Fails, Space News

The ISEE-3 Reboot Project efforts were funded with $160,000 raised on the crowd-funding website RocketHub.com. Another fundraising drive likely would have been required for the citizen science campaign Cowing and Wingo were planning. "We did stuff that was widely seen as impossible, improbable, and impractical," said Cowing. "You need to focus on the absurd things that are possible."

ISEE-3 Status Report 9 July 2014 (afternoon)

Our troubleshooting today eliminated some suspected causes of propulsion system problems. We do not think any of the valves are malfuctioning. Right now we think there is a chance that the Nitrogen used as a pressurant for the monopropellant Hydrazine propulsion system may have been depleted. That said, we still have a number of troubleshooting options yet to be explored. We have a DSN pass scheduled for Friday that will allow us to recalibrate our location information and trajectory plans for ISEE-3. Even if the L-1 halo orbit is no longer an option, we do have plans to use ISEE-3 for science in other locations within the inner solar system after the lunar flyby on 10 August.

ISEE-3 Current Location 21 June 2014

Worldwide Audience for ISEE-3 TCM Burn

Celestial Symmetry As ISEE-3 Departs and Returns

Mike Loucks @Astrogator_Mike Symmetry baby! Outbound #ISEE3 trajectory (blue) from 1983 and Incoming (green) in 2014. Earth-Sun rotating frame.

ISEE-3 Trajectory Correction Maneuver Data

These charts represent data recorded during our Trajectory Correction Maneuver (TCM) thruster firings yesterday. Thruster firings were planned to done in groupings - or "segments" - of 63 firings per segment. The first chart is annotated to show the three firing attempts. The first segment was full duration but only partially successful. The second and third attempts failed. Possible causes (under investigation) include valve malfunction and fuel supply issues. Click on images to enlarge.

ISEE-3 Reboot Project In The News

NASA's Zombie Spacecraft Learns to Fire Its Engines, The Atlantic

"The quest to save the ISEE-3--a long-lost NASA probe launched in the disco era and abandoned in the dot-com boom--might just succeed. Late last week, the amateur scientists and engineers working to salvage the probe hit a major milestone: They coaxed the craft into firing its rotational thrusters."

Mechanical 'hiccups' complicate satellite reboot mission, LA Times

"In the past month of working with the spacecraft, Cowing said they'd gotten used to its idiosyncrasies. ISEE-3 lacks an onboard computer, so commands must be fed to it one at a time. Cowing compared the process to rock-climbing: When it's time to move to the next outcrop, the movement has to happen quickly and definitively. "You just have to push through it and the data you get back isn't exactly what you want. As soon as it would take another command, you just rush through the next one and the next one," he said. "It's like telling an old dot-matrix printer from back in the day to do something."

In Effort to Shift Abandoned NASA Craft, a Hiccup (or Burp), New York Times

"The first part of the maneuver succeeded, a milestone in an effort to resurrect a zombie spacecraft that NASA abandoned 17 years ago. But then -- perhaps to be expected during work on a jalopy -- problems cropped up, and the thrusters failed to fire properly. Another attempt to complete the course correction will be made Wednesday. "I feel like it is taunting us sometimes," Keith Cowing, one of the leaders of the effort, said of the 36-year-old spacecraft, the International Sun-Earth Explorer-3, or ISEE-3. It is not NASA commanding the spacecraft now, but a group of civilians working in a former McDonald's in California taking advantage of technological goodies of the 21st century, including Skype, Twitter, laptop computers and crowdsourcing."

As Engines Sputter To Life, Vintage Spacecraft Turns Toward Moon, NPR

"Now, as of Tuesday, they've been sending commands for engine burns that will actually change the vehicle's course. "And the first burn went well, we thought," says Cowing, "and then it stopped and we got indications that the spacecraft had changed its speed, which is what you want." But the second attempt to fire the engines didn't go as smoothly. "It's a cranky old spacecraft that -- knock on wood -- does what we tell it to do most of the time," says Cowing. "We kind of knew we might be doing this over the course of a day or two, so this isn't surprising."

First Effort To Bring Old NASA Heliophysics Bird Back to Earth Orbit is Cut Short, Space News

"An attempt to divert NASA's venerable International Earth/Sun Explorer (ISEE)-3 satellite back toward Earth was suspended due to technical issues early July 8, but the all-volunteer team seeking to resurrect the 1970's-era heliophysics mission expects to try again July 9."

ISEE-3 Status Report 8 July 2014 (evening)

We managed to conduct the first segment (composed of 63 thruster pulses) but encountered problems with the second and halted the remainder of segment firings. Today's burn was supposed to be 7.32987 m/s. We're looking at data and formulating a plan for tomorrow. Our window tomorrow (Wednesday) at Arecibo opens at 12:39 pm EDT and extends to 3:26 pm EDT.

You can see telemetry from ISEE-3 here at AMSAT-DL

The photos below are from Mission Control at McMoons.

ISEE-3 Mission Control Overview

Click on image to enlarge

ISEE-3 Status Report 7 July 2014 (evening)

As many of you know, last week we fired the thrusters on ISEE-3 to do a spin-up burn. Before the burn (actually 11 pulses on the spacecraft's hydrazine thrusters) the spin rate of ISEE-3 was 19.16 rpm. After spin-up burn it was 19.76 rpm. The original mission specifications for ISEE-3 called for a spin rate of 19.75 +/- 0.2 rpm. In other words: bullseye.

If all goes according to plan on Tuesday, 8 July, we will conduct the Trajectory Correction Maneuver (TCM). This will require a much longer firing of the spacecraft's thrusters.  Our window at Arecibo opens at 12:42 pm EDT and extends until 3:29 pm EDT. If the burn is a success we will follow up with another ranging session using the DSN to get an exact measure of the spacecraft's position, trajectory, and speed.  After that we should be good to go for our lunar flyby on 10 August.

After the last technical tag-up for today it looks like TCM will be 432-435 pulses fired in 7 segments with a total delta V of approximately 7 m/sec.

ISEE-3 Reboot Project In The News

ISEE-3 Project Team Announces the Space Probes Engines are Fired Up, CrowdFund Insider

"Just a little over a month since the closing of their crowdfunding campaign on RocketHub campaign to the close, the team behind the ISEE-3 Reboot Project announced over the week that they have successfully fired up the space probe's engines."

Volunteers Will Try To Bring Old NASA Spacecraft Back to Earth Orbit, Space News

"The volunteer team attempting to resurrect NASA's International Earth/Sun Explorer (ISEE)-3 observatory before it goes hurtling into orbit around the sun for thousands of years will attempt to boost the venerable spacecraft back into the Earth system July 8."

Retired spaceflight engineer and team bring back to life a 3-decade-old spacecraft, Washington Post

"On July 2, the Cold War-era satellite fired its first thrusts since 1987, according to team members of the ISEE-3 Reboot Project. "All in all, a very good day," co-leader Keith Cowing wrote in a blog post. Though made up largely of former NASA employees, ISEE-3 Reboot Project's private group also has some younger space-lovers on board. "Some of our team members were not even born yet the last time the engines fired," the team said via Twitter."

36-Year-Old NASA Probe's Engines Successfully Fired Up by Private Team, Scientific American

"ISEE-3 needs to be moved to put it in an advantageous position to communicate with Earth. In past interviews with Space.com, Cowing has said the group will focus on what to use the spacecraft for after rescuing it. Another priority will be seeing how well its 13 scientific instruments function. At least one instrument, the magnetometer, is working well enough to do science. "Recent magnetometer data shows recent solar event," the team said via Twitter on Wednesday (July 1)."

Updated Ephemeris for ISEE-3 at JPL Horizons 3 July 2014

Ephemeris Type: OBSERVER
Target Body: ICE Spacecraft (ISEE-3)
Observer Location: Geocentric [500]
Time Span : Start=2014-07-04, Stop=2014-08-03, Step=1 d
Table Settings: defaults
Object Data Page

UPDATE (2014-Jul-03): Trajectory update from ISEE-3 Reboot based on Arecibo angular data and DSN two-way Doppler.

What Can NASA Learn From ISRO?

NASA Needs an Indian Tutorial, Bloomberg Review

"What can the U.S. space program learn from the Indian one? Not much, if the standard is outer-space achievement: India's modest record mostly includes feats the U.S. accomplished decades ago. But if the standard is having a clear vision of what you want to accomplish -- and getting that done quickly and economically, there might be a lesson or two. Consider the speech that India's new Prime Minister, Narendra Modi, gave Monday, shortly after India's space program successfully launched five satellites belonging to far wealthier countries on an Indian-designed rocket. Combatting criticism that India's space program is a profligate waste when so many of the nation's citizens struggle to fulfill basic needs, Modi offered a concise vision for why such launches are necessary: Many misunderstand space technology to be for the elite. That it has nothing to do with the common man. I however believe such technology is fundamentally connected with the common man. As a change agent, it can empower and connect, to transform his life."

India's Rocket Missions Are Cheaper Than What It Takes To Make A Single Hollywood Movie Inquisitor

"India's Mangalyaan satellite to Mars, cost a total of $75 million. The entire budget for the mission didn't even cross a measly $100 million. The movie Gravity alone cost $100 million, quipped India's newly elected Prime Minister Narendra Modi: "I have heard about the film Gravity. I am told the cost of sending an Indian rocket to space is less than the money invested in making the Hollywood movie."

Related stories at @india_inspace

ISEE-3 Reboot Project In The News

ISEE-3 Propulsion System Awakens at 11th Hour, Space News

"If ISEE-3 makes it back to Earth-sun Lagrange Point 1, Cowing and Wingo plan to command the spacecraft from mission control McMoons: an abandoned McDonald's on the Campus of NASA's Ames Research Center in Mountain View, California. Besides raking in more heliophysics data, Cowing and Wingo want to give the general public, students in particular, a chance to learn firsthand about Earth-sun interactions, and spacecraft operations."

Engines on 36-Year-Old NASA Probe, NBC

"An old NASA spacecraft under the control of a private team fired its thrusters on Thursday for the first time in a generation. NASA's International Sun-Earth Explorer 3 probe, or ISEE-3, which the agency retired in 1997, performed the maneuver in preparation for a larger trajectory correction next week. The spacecraft hadn't fired its engines since 1987, ISEE-3 Reboot Project team members said."

An old workhorse satellite spins back up, The Economist

"In the month since re-waking ISEE-3, and with the assistance of both Arecibo and the global Deep Space Network (DSN), that team has been testing command responses and poking gently at the instrumentation on board. Doing so is not easy. The original control code is long gone, so the team has had to improvise their own. The satellite lacks any program storage: each command to be executed must be sent one at a time and acknowledged for the group to be sure they can proceed to the next step."

Additional ISEE-3 Spin-up Confirmation

Further confirmation of the ISEE-3 spin-up burn yesterday. Before the burn (actually 11 pulses on the spacecraft's hydrazine thrusters) the spin rate of ISEE-3 was 19.16 rpm. After spin-up burn it was 19.76 rpm. The original mission specifications for ISEE-3 called for a spin rate of 19.75 +/- 0.2 rpm. Bullseye.

ISEE-3 Current Location 3 July 2014

Jóvenes por el Espacio Grupo México Listens to ISEE-3

From Pat Barthelow on Facebook: (translation): Hey Folks! Just heard from my Moonbounce friends (Jan, PA3FXB and team) in Dwingeloo Holland (PI9CAM) who have a 25 meter Moonbounce dish, that they are hearing ISEE-3 easily, including spin modulation (AM) They can do this with an SDR that just yesterday they tried for the first time, and almost fell of their chairs when they clearly heard it, the first try, and that was using wide bandwidth, SSB voice, about 2.3 kHz. tomorrow they will look again at narrow bandwidths, and anticipate a booming signal with very high S/N. this is incredible. see photo of their newly rebuilt history making dish that originally saw first light in the late 1950s.

Ed Smith, Original Original Principal Investigator on ISEE-3 Vector Helium Magnetometer: The effort to recapture the ISEE-/ ICE spacecraft has just achieved a notable scientific success. Data recovered from the spacecraft very recently show that the magnetometer is not only operating well but has observed a large rapid change in the Interplanetary Magnetic Field/IMF.

What makes this accomplishment so remarkable is that it is the first science data returned by the spacecraft after its long 29 -year voyage around the Sun (traveling ahead of and slightly faster than the Earth). That trip began shortly after ISEE carried out the first encounter with a comet, Giacobini- Zinner, in September 1985. Shortly afterward, the ISEE experiments continued to operate but were disconnected from the radio telemetry so that only a beacon was being transmitted. In the intervening years, no scientific data were received.

ISEE-3 Reboot Project Mission Control Team

The ISEE-3 Reboot Project mission control team for today's engine firing: From left to right: Austin Epps - Lead Engineer, Jacob Gold - Systems Engineer; Cameron Woodman - Flight Director; Dennis Wingo - Mission Director, Project Co-lead; Marco Colleluori - Attitude & Orbit Control Systems Engineer; and Balint Seeber - Communications Engineer, SDR Guru (Ettus Research)

ISEE-3 Engines Successfully Fired For Spin-Up

Today we fired the A and B thrusters on ISEE-3 to perform a spin-up burn. Preliminary results confirm the burn and a change in rotation. Spin rate was originally 19.16 rpm. It is now at 19.76 rpm. The original mission specifications call for 19.75 +/- 0.2 rpm- so we are exactly where we wanted to be.

We are now collecting telemetry in advance of our next DSN pass and our ATP-3 review with NASA. The earliest we expect to make our Trajectory Correction Maneuver is next week.

All in all, a very good day.

ISEE-3 Location Update 2 July 2014

ISEE-3 Status Report 1 July 2014 (Update)

We have a window at Arecibo that opens today around 1:00 pm EDT. If all goes according to plan we will attempt to do our spin-up burn today. Once we have reliable communications, ability to issue commands, and reliable telemetry we will command ISEE-3 to make one pulse of its thrusters. If that is successful then we'll command an additional 10 pulses. Keep an eye on @ISEE3reboot on Twitter for updates.

Update: We were able to use the B transmitter today for the first time but were unable to complete the various steps needed to command ISEE-3 to fire its engines. There is a chance of a window at Arecibo tomorrow.

Meanwhile the first scientific measurement by ISEE-3 in decades has been obtained. Recent magnetometer data from ISEE-3 shows clear evidence of a recent solar event. We will be releasing more information on these observations very soon.

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