NASA Re-establishes Contact with Interstellar Spacecraft

Voyager spacecraft

NASA says that it has successfully re-established full contact with the Voyager 2 spacecraft, following a partial blackout period of around seven-and-a-half months. The partial loss of communication was necessitated by the need to make repairs and upgrades to the only radio antenna that can control the deep space vessel, the 230-foot-wide Deep Space Station 43, in Canberra, Australia. During that time, NASA has been able to receive statistical updates from Voyager, but without the ability to send outbound information or instructions to the craft.

On October 29, after the installation of some critical new hardware on the huge antenna, NASA sent a set of instructions to Voyager 2 for the first time since mid-March and received confirmation back from the spacecraft that those instructions had been received and executed successfully.

Launched in August, 1977, the unmanned Voyager 2 spacecraft did extensive exploratory work among the outer planets in the solar system, including the first-ever (and only, to date) close flybys of Uranus and Neptune. Afterwards, it was set on a trajectory which will take it on an indefinite journey into deep interstellar space. In November, 2018, Voyager 2 left the outer boundary of our solar system, at a distance 122 times that of the Earth from the Sun, and traveling at a speed of over 34,000 mph. NASA hopes to be able to maintain contact with the spacecraft until at least the mid 2020s.