Crowdfunders Successfully Gains Command Of 36 Years Old Defunct ISEE-3 Satellite

First time ever in recorded history whereby a group of crowdfunding organisers after successfully raising approximately ~ US$$159,602 for the purpose of taking the opportunity to conduct additional astronomical scientific research specially with a goal involving an attempt at yet another cometary rendezvous, managed to gain command of a defunct satellite known as the ESA (formally identified as ESRO) / NASA International Sun & Earth Explorer 3 (ISEE-3) / International Cometary Explorer (ICE) spacecraft that was launched on the 12th of August 1978 into a halo orbit at the L1 Lagrangian Point (also by itself a remarkable achievement at that period of time) and which was shut down on the 5th of May 1997.

Space College Foundation said:

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.

First Contact with ISEE-3 was achieved at the Arecibo Radio Observatory in Puerto Rico. We would not have been able to achieve this effort without the gracious assistance provided by the entire staff at Arecibo. In addition to the staff at Arecibo, our team included simultaneous listening and analysis support by AMSAT-DL at the Bochum Observatory in Germany, the Space Science Center at Morehead State University in Kentucky, and the SETI Institute's Allen Telescope Array in California.

Of course this effort would not have been possible without the assistance of NASA and the Space Act Agreement crafted by NASA Headquarters, NASA Ames Research center, and the System Solar System Exploration Research Virtual Institute (SSERVI).

YouTube Video ID No. ATVPGGA7BQ

RocketHub, Inc., ISEE-3 Reboot Project
By Skycorp, Space College and SpaceRef

Space College Foundation, Inc., We Are Now In Command Of The ISEE-3 Spacecraft
By Keith Cowing @ 2014-05-29 T 16:07

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Senior Member
Mar 19, 2012
so.. . what does this Sat do again?

so.. . what does this Sat do again?
Details in here and here.

NASA Solar System Exploration said:

Goals: International Sun-Earth Explorer-3 (ISEE-3) was to investigate the solar wind and its interaction with Earth's magnetic field, among other phenomena in interplanetary space. It was later renamed International Cometary Explorer (ICE) and used to study two comets during an extended mission.

Accomplishments: ISEE-3 was the first spacecraft to orbit the Sun at L1, a location in space where an object remains directly between Earth and Sun throughout its orbit. Coordinated with the two Earth-orbiting satellites in the International Sun-Earth Explorer (ISEE) program, ISEE-3 enabled scientists to measure solar and geomagnetic phenomena from different points in time and space. It was the first spacecraft to monitor the solar wind approaching Earth, and continued the investigation of cosmic rays and solar flare emissions in the interplanetary region near Earth's orbit.



The purposes of the mission were:

  • to investigate solar-terrestrial relationships at the outermost boundaries of the Earth's magnetosphere;

  • to examine in detail the structure of the solar wind near the Earth and the shock wave that forms the interface between the solar wind and Earth's magnetosphere;

  • to investigate motions of and mechanisms operating in the plasma sheets; and,

  • to continue the investigation of cosmic rays and solar flare emissions in the interplanetary region near 1 AU.
COSPAR / NSSDC ID No. 1978-079A


New Member
Sep 26, 2008
I wonder if, this opens up the danger of terrorists being able to get a hold of decommissioned satellites for their evil deeds... a bit worrying if you ask me.

I wonder if, this opens up the danger of terrorists being able to get a hold of decommissioned satellites for their evil deeds... a bit worrying if you ask me.
Not very probable though unauthorised access did ever happened on a rare number of occasions. First and foremost (considering just a single factor alone provided you do have the technical expertise and know-how), importantly for one you really got to have either physical or remote access to extremely specialised equipments like a very, very, very big high-gain parabolic reflector antenna such as those one you see in SingTel Bukit Timah Satellite Earth Station (BTSES) while driving along the Bukit Timah Expressway (BTE), along with associated equipments for the hardware and the necessary software for gaining spacecraft Command and Control (C&C) / Tracking (TT&C) functionality e.g. telemetry data downlink / uplink transmission capabilities. Not a simple task for even a group of extremely coordinated and highly qualified professionals to pull off successfully, it is much, much easier to either jam or spoof satellite carrier signals instead.

In this particular instance, first contact with the ISEE-3 / ICE spacecraft was acquired with the Arecibo Radio Telescope Observatory in Arecibo, Puerto Rico (prominently featured in the 1995 climactic scenes of James Bond's GoldenEye) with a modulated data bitrate of 512 bits/sec.

Anyway as compliance to internationally agreed recommendations, majority of the Low-Earth Orbiting (LEO) and Geostationary Earth Orbiting (GEO) satellites are either commanded to conduct a de-orbit burn manoeuvre, re-entering Earth's atmosphere in a fiery death at the termination of their operational life cycle or be send into a End Of Disposal (EOD) graveyard orbit where there'll eventually be shut down though not all will make it.

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