Technoarcheology: How to revive a satellite

May 30, 2014 7:32 AM

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Technoarcheology: How to revive a satellite

"WE JUST made contact. I need to talk to you in 30 minutes," says Keith Cowing, the editor of NASA Watch, an online publication. Just as Babbage called him, Mr Cowing received word from the Arecibo Observatory in Puerto Rico that his colleagues had made contact with a NASA satellite launched in August 1978. When your correspondent called back, Mr Cowing was irrepressible: the satellite had responded to commands and was now set into "coherent ranging mode," which should make it easier to talk to it. The group had captured the satellite.

This was no act of space piracy. Mr Cowing, Dennis Wingo of Skycorp and several other experts had received permission from NASA to take control of a satellite for which the space agency has no further purpose nor funding. With the help of nearly $160,000, raised through crowdfunding, the team hopes ...

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