back to article Privateers race to capture forgotten NASA space probe using crowdsourced cash

A team of engineers who helped decode archaic NASA data has moved onto hardware, and is trying to find the cash to recapture the International Sun/Earth Explorer 3 (ISEE-3) probe – the first spacecraft to pass through the tail of a comet – as it swings by Earth. isee3 ISEE-3 under construction at NASA, back when disco was …

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  1. Annihilator Silver badge
    Coffee/keyboard

    "donated the craft to the Smithsonian Museum"

    How generous :-)

    1. TitterYeNot

      Time Limited Offer

      '"donated the craft to the Smithsonian Museum" How generous :-)'

      Dear Mr. Smithsonian,

      You have been specially selected from thousands of eligible entrants to be the lucky recipient of a fantastic free gift!!! Yes, a late seventies solar research satellite can be yours, gratis, for absolutely *nothing!!!

      *Plus special delivery charges of $2,999,999,999.99 Terms and conditions may apply.

  2. Destroy All Monsters Silver badge
    Alien

    Event Horizon II: "International Sun/Earth Explore - The Awakening"

    It went through the tail of a comet

    No-one had any idea of what it saw there

    ....until Ancient Evil was reawakened by technoarcheologists

    A MOVIE BY UWE BOLL!

    1. seven of five Silver badge

      Re: Event Horizon II: "International Sun/Earth Explore - The Awakening"

      ...which itself most probably is more vile than anything to be found in a comets tail...

  3. asdf
    Trollface

    time in general

    You are going to see more and more of this as the Baby Boomers retire and pass on. Their legacy may be mixed (being generous here) but any generation over 50 is going to have valuable knowledge humanity might not even know is valuable until its gone. Hopefully the US doesn't forget how to do manned spaceflight again itself.

    1. Unicornpiss Silver badge

      Re: time in general

      Nothing new about this if you've ever read any science fiction. Many stories of "the knowledge of the ancestors" or "We've forgotten how to maintain the machines", or "The ancients accomplished great things" I just didn't think we'd be getting there under 40 years from some of the greatest accomplishments of mankind.

    2. Dodgy Geezer Silver badge

      Re: time in general

      ... Hopefully the US doesn't forget how to do manned spaceflight again itself...

      We've forgotten how to make nuclear power stations...

      1. This post has been deleted by its author

  4. gerryg

    history repeating itself

    I seem to recall another government project in which all the technology was junked and it was only rescued when those involved came out of retirement and rescued stuff they'd stashed away

    1. David McCoy
      Happy

      Re: history repeating itself

      isn't that the plot line for "Space Cowboys"?

      1. JCitizen Bronze badge
        Angel

        Re: history repeating itself

        That's exactly what I was going to say!!

  5. Fruit and Nutcase Silver badge

    Calling Tim Cook

    How about a small Apple size donation from that great big pile of cash. Probably tax deductable as well. Oh, I see, Apple don't pay taxes. Fair enough.

    1. cynic 2

      Re: Calling Tim Cook

      Haters gotta hate, eh?

  6. Kharkov
    Pirate

    Calling Elon? He's busy fighting ULA

    Elon Musk held a press conference on Friday 25th April where he accused (or pointed out, depending on how you look at it) ULA of ridiculously overcharging the DOD for their launches and how odd it was that the more-expensive service provider got the lions share of the next wave of launches. Expect fur to (gradually) fly over the next few months.

    So now that Elon's starting a PR war with ULA, I don't think he'll have time to spare for this.

    Shame really...

    1. John Smith 19 Gold badge
      Unhappy

      Re: Calling Elon? He's busy fighting ULA

      "Elon Musk held a press conference on Friday 25th April where he accused (or pointed out, depending on how you look at it) ULA of ridiculously overcharging the DOD for their launches and how odd it was that the more-expensive service provider got the lions share of the next wave of launches. Expect fur to (gradually) fly over the next few month"

      That was part of his anger. What really p**sed him off was the Air Force said Spacex could bid on EELV launches, which to that point they bought one at a time. Spacex set to work to demonstrate they are capable of launching USAF payloads below a certain mass and delta V requirement.

      Then the USAF turned around and said they'd done a 36 core block buy from ULA and they were cutting the launches they think Spacex can do by 1/2.

      The Secretary of the Air Force's behavior in this shall we say seemed "anomalous"?

    2. Tom 7 Silver badge

      Re: Calling Elon? He's busy fighting ULA

      http://farleftside.com/2014/4-25-14-vibrating-banana.html

      1. Destroy All Monsters Silver badge

        Re: Calling Elon? He's busy fighting ULA

        No-one is interested in cheap launchers. Everybody is interested in wealth transfer.

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Interesting idea

    Considering that comet tails may contain the only traces of superheavy elements greater than Z=96 due to their extreme age.

    1. MichaelBirks

      Re: Interesting idea

      Superheavy Transuranic Elements cannot be used where there is life.

      Selecting Agents Ducky and Patsy.

  8. Winkypop Silver badge
    Headmaster

    Complicated maths from a smart guy

    I struggled with basic algebra at school.

    Calculate me as: in awe.

    1. Yesnomaybe

      Re: Complicated maths from a smart guy

      "NASA's Farquhar has come out of retirement"

      When did he retire? Judging by the picture, he must be in his early 40ies by now.

      1. Tom 13

        Re: Complicated maths from a smart guy

        Your basic addition needs some work. Either that or you didn't account for the date for the picture.

  9. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    This is something

    crowdfunding should be doing instead of expensing Shoreditch Roundabout kids ferrari's

    1. venezuelan beaver cheese
      Thumb Up

      Re: This is something

      ... or absurd Miley Cyrus Twerking Shirts

      http://yourkickstartersucks.tumblr.com/post/60557350698/only-37-minutes-left-to-get-a-t-shirt-of-something

  10. Anonymous John

    "We didn't steal it; we just borrowed it for a while!"

    Twocing.

  11. Jason Bloomberg Silver badge

    $125K

    That sounds like loose change in the grand scheme of things. Don't agencies have special project or contingency funds which could be put to good use here?

    It seems it would be a great shame to miss something spectacular for sake of short notice because no one had thought to set aside some cash for that possibility. Perhaps some foreign government may be able to step up to the plate if America is short of cash.

    1. phuzz Silver badge
      Facepalm

      Re: $125K

      I'd have given them some cash but signing up looked to be a right faff.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: $125K

        Given the effort so far expended on this amazing project, I went to the trouble of filling in a signup form, and then a payment form. I did have to enter my name and email on both forms, which did strike me as rather irksome...

  12. ShadowDragon8685
    Go

    I hope the lesson to be learned here is that you should never junk any technical documentation, even if you've junked most or all of the equipment it was used for. You never know when you'll need to break out the museum piece - or even recover the wayward museum piece.

    I hope they sort this out and put this probe back where it belongs, and then line up outside Cape Canaveral, doing pelvic thrusts to the tune of Daft Punk. Because honestly - NASA KNEW this wayward son was coming home, they shouldn't have junked the kit needed to tell it to resume its orbit without figuring out how to emulate it on more modern hardware.

    1. james 68

      wayward son...

      shouldnt that then be "pelvic trusts to the tune of kansas"?

      yeah

      im old

  13. Dave Harvey
    Alien

    Let's jus hope that when it comes back near us, it doesn't decide that it needs to talk to the Whales!

    1. stucs201

      You're getting your Star Trek films muddled. It's alien probes that want to talk to the whales. Returning probes of ours (albeit augmented by alien tech) want to talk to their creator.

  14. Jim Birch

    Loopy loops

    Who drew that amazing loopy orbit graphic? He doesn't appear to have a good grasp on Newton's Laws and may secretly wish to be a TIE fighter pilot.

  15. Another Neil

    Beware the fast neutrons!

    Let's just hope it wasn't powered by a Queller drive.

  16. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    V'ger

    Seeks the Creator.

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