By Marcia Dunn | AP By Marcia Dunn | AP December 4 at 11:14 a.m.
CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. – NASA has conducted an engine test on a spacecraft 13 billion kilometers away.
Last week, ground controllers sent commands to fire backup thrusters on Voyager 1, our most distant spacecraft. The propellers had been inactive for 37 years, since Voyager 1 flew over Saturn.
To the delight of NASA, the four sleeping propellers came to life.
The engineers wanted to see if these alternative propellers could point the Voyager 1 antenna towards Earth, work normally handled by a different set that is now degrading. The propellers will take the signaling operations next month.
Launched in 1977, Voyager 1 is the only spacecraft that travels through interstellar space, the region beyond our solar system. Voyager 2 is close to your heels. The propellant test worked so well that NASA hopes to test it on Voyager 2.
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