NASA has nailed an engine test on a spacecraft 13 billion miles away.
Last week, ground controllers sent commands to fire backup thrusters on Voyager 1, our most distant spacecraft. The thrusters had been idle for 37 years, since Voyager 1 flew past Saturn.
To NASA's delight, the four dormant thrusters came alive. It took more than 19 hours — the one-way travel time for signals — for controllers at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California, to get the good news.
Engineers wanted to see if these alternate thrusters could point Voyager 1's antenna toward Earth, a job normally handled by a different set that's now degrading. The thrusters will take over pointing...