NASA’s far-flung Voyager 1 spacecraft has taken its backup thrusters out of mothballs.
Voyager 1 hadn’t use its four “trajectory correction maneuver”( TCM) thrusters since November 1980, during the spacecraft’s last planetary flyby — an epic encounter with Saturn. But mission squad members fired them up again Tuesday( Nov. 28 ), to see whether the TCM thrusters were still “re ready for” primetime.
The little engines passed the test with flying colors, NASA officers said.[ Voyager 1’s Road to Interstellar Space: A Photo Timeline]
“The Voyager team get more excited each time with each milestone in the thruster test, ” Todd Barber, a propulsion technologist at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory( JPL) in Pasadena, California, said in a statement. “The mood was one of relief, pleasure and skepticism after witnessing these well-rested thrusters pick up the baton as if no time had passed at all.”
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