ISEE-3: May 2014 Archives

We Are Now In Command of the ISEE-3 Spacecraft

"The ISEE-3 Reboot Project is pleased to announce that our team has established two-way communication with the ISEE-3 spacecraft and has begun commanding it to perform specific functions. Over the coming days and weeks our team will make an assessment of the spacecraft's overall health and refine the techniques required to fire its engines and bring it back to an orbit near Earth."

ISEE-3 Spacecraft Status

"We have successfully commanded both of ISEE-3's data multiplexers into engineering telemetry mode. The current bitrate is 512 bits/sec.  We have been able to verify modulated data through ground stations in Germany, Morehead State in Kentucky, and the SETI Allen Array in California."

Keith's note: 34 years before the ISEE-3 Reboot Project there was another attempt to raise private funds to operate a retired NASA spacecraft - Viking 1. It was called "The Viking Fund." Never heard of it? Here's a story from 1980 that explains what they did. Sound familiar? I was involved. So this whole idea is not exactly a new one to me. The person behind all of this was Stan Kent.

After Decades Of Silent Wandering, NASA Probe Phones Home, NPR

"The initial contact was a tone followed by specific commands," project organizer Keith Cowing told NPR's Nell Greenfieldboyce by email. "We learned a lot simply by being able to talk to it and get it to do things. "May not sound like much but that was a huge unknown," he adds."

Keith's note: We have had the ability to contact the ISEE-3 spacecraft since last Friday. All hardware is in place at Arecibo and has been tested end-to-end. We are now awaiting authorization to proceed from NASA. First Contact can then happen almost immediately once our window opens.

Every day we delay shortens the time available to contact the spacecraft and begin the process of understanding its condition and verifying our ability to command it. The longer we wait, the more fuel and thrusting time will be required. This will soon become a critical factor as we get into the month of June. Given that the spacecraft is not where everyone thought it would be, the possibility of a lunar impact cannot be discounted. Yet another reason why we need to make First Contact ASAP.

ISEE-3 Reboot Project: Updates From the Front at Arecibo, Dennis Wingo

"The error in position has just elevated the concern level greatly. We know approximately what the offset error is from the existing ephemeris but we don't have enough information yet to plot a new course and generate a new ephemeris file. This has become extremely important as there is a solid statistical chance that the spacecraft could impact the moon or even be off course enough to threaten other spacecraft in Earth orbit."

Citizen scientists seek access to sleeping satellite, CBS (video)

"A first of its kind mission to wake up a sleeping satellite is underway. As Mark Albert explains, Keith Cowing and a team of 20 convinced NASA for the first time to turn over the satellite to a group of space enthusiasts."

Keith's note: Our ISEE-3 Reboot Project crowd funding campaign just ended.

We raised $159,502 - 128% of our original goal.

Time to wake up a disco-era spacecraft and make it do science again!

NASA Signs Agreement with Citizen Scientists Attempting to Communicate with Old Spacecraft

"NASA has given a green light to a group of citizen scientists attempting to breathe new scientific life into a more than 35-year old agency spacecraft. The agency has signed a Non-Reimbursable Space Act Agreement (NRSAA) with Skycorp, Inc., in Los Gatos, California, allowing the company to attempt to contact, and possibly command and control, NASA's International Sun-Earth Explorer-3 (ISEE-3) spacecraft as part of the company's ISEE-3 Reboot Project. This is the first time NASA has worked such an agreement for use of a spacecraft the agency is no longer using or ever planned to use again. The NRSAA details the technical, safety, legal and proprietary issues that will be addressed before any attempts are made to communicate with or control the 1970's-era spacecraft as it nears the Earth in August."

Keith's note: We have passed our initial $125,000 goal - and our $150,000 'stretch' goal. First Contact with ISEE-3 is imminent i.e. hours/days. Please consider helping this project at

Crowd-funded "citizen scientists" will try to reboot 1970s NASA satellite, CBS

Asked if the goal was to resume science or just prove that it could be done, Cowing said "it's both." "Why not try it? We told people up front it's iffy, and we've gotten over $150,000 now from people and they knew exactly what the risk was. And, it's cool. The factor that's motivated a lot of people is 'why not?'" As for the potential science, "we're going to do our best to make sure whatever comes back from that spacecraft is on line as fast as we can get it online, that it's open to anyone."

NASA Is Letting Citizens Commandeer a Long-Lost Satellite, Gizmodo

If there was any doubt about whether modern Americans were still enamored with space, the results of their crowdfunding campaign squash it. The group blew through their $100,000 goal, and are currently getting close to a $150,000 stretch goal. There are only two days left to donate--and you should--but the fact that they've raised so much money in so short a time is remarkable.

More news

- ISEE-3 Reboot Away Team Likes Nice strong carrier from Xpnd B
- Stronger Signal at Arecibo
- Our Amplifier Arrived From Germany
- ISEE-3 Reboot Project In The News

ISEE-3 Reboot Project Hardware Detects ISEE-3 at Arecibo

"The following are screenshots of data from the live receive session we did with our Ettus Research Software Defined Radio unit attached to the Arecibo antenna today (19 May). "Waterfalls" were generated by post-processing the recorded data. There are four recordings of various lengths as we were testing the setup, and this is the very, very initial result."

ISEE-3 Away Team Is at Arecibo

Keith's note: The ISEE-3 Away Team is onsite at Arecibo: Dennis Wingo, Balint Seeber, Austin Epps. A month ago when we started (14 April) we had $0.00. Today the team is installing hardware on the antenna.

Now that we've passed our initial goal of $125,000, we have asked for an extension to our crowd funding effort - a "stretch goal" of $150,000. As we developed the software, hardware, and procedures needed to contact and command the ISEE-3 spacecraft, it became clear to us that getting additional information on the precise location of the spacecraft was of great value. The best way to do that is to use NASA's DSN (Deep Space Network). Since NASA is not funding our project, we'd need to pay them for this activity. Based on the time we'd need to use the DSN, $25,000 is a very good estimate. We're already close to $132,000 $135,000 $136,000 $143,000. So, if you have not yet donated, here's your chance.

First Contact will occur very soon (we hope) within the next week. Please consider helping this project at

ISEE-3 Reboot Project Status and Schedule for First Contact, Dennis Wingo

"Today's update regards the progress of the ISEE-3 Reboot Project team in our preparations to contact the spacecraft. We started this effort 32 days ago on on April 12, 2014. Below is what we have accomplished in that time - and the challenges that lie ahead. Perhaps the toughest part of doing something like this in a very limited timespan is to climb the learning curve - and to do so with a spacecraft you knew very little about. Early on we did a preliminary evaluation of the spacecraft and its systems so as to better understand it. This was a long jump into deep water. As we did with our Lunar Orbiter Image Recovery Project (concerns the 1960s era Lunar Orbiter spacecraft) the search for ISEE-3 documents has been intense and not without failure."

Space Hackers Prepare to Reboot 35-Year-Old Spacecraft , IEEE Spectrum

"Ettus has volunteered to help with the programming, and one member of the company will join Wingo in Arecibo. They'll set to work there on 19 May, using a 400-watt transmitter shipped in from Germany to try to make contact with the spacecraft."

Fundraisers Expect Green Light from NASA To Recover 70's-Vintage Spacecraft", Space News

"A pair of space geeks quarterbacking an effort to bring a derelict NASA spacecraft back into orbit around Earth expect NASA on May 13 to legally bless their privately funded project to recover and restart the 36 year-old International Sun/Earth Explorer-3. "We expect the Space Act Agreement to be signed tomorrow," Dennis Wingo, president of Moffett Field, California-based Skycorp Inc. wrote in a May 12 email. "

Keith's note: We just passed the $116,000 $117,000 $118,000 $120,000 $121,000 $125,000 point in our crowd funding campaign. There is still much more yet to be done on this bare bones effort. First Contact is very soon. Please consider helping this project at

Keith's note: We just passed the $112,000 point in our crowd funding campaign - 90% We started 27 days ago with nothing. We still need to reach $125,000. Please consider helping this project at

Our large transmitter is undergoing final assembly. Our software defined radio hardware was delivered to ISEE-3 Mission Control last week - more information here: Ettus Research Helps Power ISEE-3 Reboot Effort

On 10 August 2014 we'll be flying less than 50 km over the lunar surface. Join us.

ISEE-3 Reboot Project Near Term Objectives

"In 2014 this venerable spacecraft returns to Earth's orbit and our primary objective is to regain control of the spacecraft and command its engines to fire on a trajectory that will result in a capture into a permanent Earth orbit.  Following this, we hope to return the spacecraft to science operations, using its instruments as they were originally designed.  The data from the spacecraft will be open to the public and will be used by the heliophysics community and will be a tool for teaching operations and science data gathering from a spacecraft by students and the public.  In the following sections we will detail the engineering objectives of the project until it is in its final Earth orbit."

Keith's note: We just passed $90,000. We still need to reach $125,000. Please consider helping this project at

ISEE-3 Reboot Project Technical Update 1 May 2014, Dennis Wingo

"Today is May 1, 2014, the 17th day after we started our RocketHub project to raise $125,000 to allow us to attempt to contact, evaluate, and command the International Sun-Earth Explorer-3 (ISEE-3) spacecraft to fire its engines in such a way as to return it to Earth orbit after a swing-by of the Moon on August 10 2014. Today I want to discuss some of the technical issues and hurdles that we face in bring this spacecraft back into a stable Earth orbit. I am leaving out the experiments for the time being as we have to focus on the engineering required before we get to that part."



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About this Archive

This page is an archive of entries in the ISEE-3 category from May 2014.

ISEE-3: April 2014 is the previous archive.

ISEE-3: June 2014 is the next archive.

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