What Do Engineers Do In Their Spare Time? Take Over a Satellite

An abandoned NASA satellite is under new management. After floating in space without a mission for 17 years, the International Solar-Environment Explorer (ISEE-3) has been brought out of retirement by a group of scientists and engineers who used their spare time to reestablish contact with the satellite.

The ISEE-3 Reboot Project, which is being supported by Space College, Skycorp, and SpaceRef, ran a successful Kickstarter campaign in May that raised nearly $160,000. NASA is aware of the project and, in fact, Mission Control for this venture is located on the NASA campus, at “McMoons,” which is a former McDonald’s and a haven for serious space enthusiasts.

Mission Control for the ISEE-3 Reboot Project. Image credit: Space College

The team used the Arecibo Radio Observatory in Puerto Rico to make contact with the satellite. Now that they have established two-way communication, the plan is to bring it safely back to a near-Earth orbit. While that’s underway, scientists are also determining whether the satellite’s science instruments can be used for new experimentation.