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How NASA almost lost the Voyager spacecraft

  voyager 2 release August 20 1977 PIA01480
The Voyager 2 spacecraft
launched from the NASA Kennedy Space Center at Cape Canaveral,
Florida, August 20, 1977.


  • NASA's twin Voyager spacecraft launched for 40 years
  • The space agency recently fired the propellers of Voyager 1,
    Orient the robot's antenna to Earth and help extend
    your mission
  • However, both Voyagers almost failed during
    launch in 1977.
  • A probe refused to communicate with Earth while
    another released aboard a leaking rocket.

More than four decades after NASA launched the
The Voyager probes
the twin robots continue buzzing in
deep space.

In fact, on November 29, the space agency ignited one of the
the propellers of the robot after 37 years of latency, and they worked
No problem.

The propellant puffs turned Voyager 1 in a position that
it helps you communicate with Earth from 13 billion miles away, where
is traveling through unexplored space between the stars. the
the maneuver will finally extend the
the useful life of the nuclear spacecraft
for up to three more years, according to
Jet Propulsion Laboratory of NASA.

The Voyager mission is easily exalted in the history of NASA;
collectively, the investigations explored Jupiter and Saturn more deeply
as never before, he surveyed Uranus and Neptune for the first time,
then it came out of the solar system.

But, as detailed in a PBS documentary called "The Farthest", which premiered in
September and now it's available to watch on Netflix, each probe almost did not survive

Voyager 2 Mutiny in space

  voyager leaving the illustration of the solar system nasa jpl

Illustration of a Voyager probe leaving the solar

Bacon (STScI)

Voyager 2 was launched first, on August 20, 1977. (The first probe
I got a "2" tag because Voyager 1 would travel faster through
space and overtake your twin.)

The takeoff was perfect, but "things went crazy" on the probe, John
Casani, the project manager of the mission, said in the film.

"Voyager did not have control of itself, it was just riding this
great rocket, and I was shaking him in such a way that he thought
I was failing, "said Ed Stone, the mission's chief scientist,
the movie. "And then he started to disconnect several boxes,
changing to backup this, to the backup that – trying to
Find out why all this was happening. "

These closures made the probe essentially refuse to talk to
Earth, which led a newspaper to headline its story "Mutiny in

"The Voyager spacecraft had decided that it just did not want to continue
the instructions that human controllers gave him, and it was
will do what I wanted to do ", Dave Linick, a Voyager
engineer, he said in the movie.

The problem: the Voyager 2 computer was not programmed to handle
the rocket squirms, trembles and rattles on its way to space
– then the system was in fritz.

"For a couple of days, it was a real nail biting.
Wondering, have you lost the spaceship? & # 39; and we would say, & us;
I'm not sure, 'cause we did not,' said Casani.

Frank Locatell, Voyager's project engineer & # 39; s mechanical
systems, he added: "That was a cliffhanger." That was the end of the
mission: that could have been the end of the mission. "

Fortunately, the person who encoded Voyager 2 managed to reset
Contact the probe after several days, then apply a patch
software, as well as Voyager 1 before launch.

But Voyager 2 would have its own close call with weeks of failure

The leaking rocket that almost sunk Voyager 1

  voyager probe titan 3e centaur rocket launch vehicle diagram labeling nasa
Labeled illustration of the Titan-Centaur rocket used to launch
The NASA Voyager explores space.

through Drew Ex Machina

The fastest-moving Voyager 1 probe launched from Kennedy space
Center on September 5, 1977, aboard a powerful Titan-Centaur

This launch vehicle had several stages: two solid fuel impellers
(stage 0), first and second stage liquid fuel engines (stages
1 and 2), and an upper stage, called Centauro, which housed the
Voyager 2 probe

Each stage fired after the previous one ran out of fuel and
separated, pushing the probe faster and faster towards Jupiter.

"We are thinking that everything is fine, and then we begin to listen
something was not right, "Charley Kohlhase, who was in charge of
The navigation and mission design of Voyager, said in the film.

The propellant seemed to be leaking from a fuel line that led to
the second stage, draining the tanks. "The second stage never arrived
to deliver his full thrust because he ran out of fuel, "Casani
He said.

A computer on the Centaur rocket from the upper stage knew it was not
traveling fast enough to get to Jupiter, then it started to burn
extra liquid fuel of hydrogen and oxygen.

"The Centaur had used 1,200 pounds of extra propellant," Kohlhase
He said. "Now we are all thinking, will there be enough left in
the tanks, or will it run out of fuel? & # 39;

Fortunately, he said, the Centaur had enough, cut
its engines with enough fuel to feed only 3.5 seconds

"Three and a half seconds," he added. "Voyager 1 barely done

If the Centaur had not saved the mission, "I would have obtained
almost to Jupiter, and then return to the sun, which
It has not been good, "said Casani.

Still in
On March 9, 1979
Voyager 1 passed Jupiter safely
closest approach and passed to Saturn.

Both probes sent incredible images of the solar exterior
system, including the first (and so far only) close-up photos of
Uranus, Neptune, and the moons and rings of those planets.

And 40 years later, both continue to browse while sending back
unprecedented details about the structure of our solar system and
interstellar space.

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