Voyager 1 mission control breathed a sigh of both pride and relief, after a command to fire up the spacecraft’s thrusters was obediently heeded.
The thrusters had not been fired in 37 years, and the flight team had to contend with decades-old software coded in a now ancient assembler language to find out how to do it.
Voyager 1 is currently flying about 21bn km away from Earth, so the command took almost 20 hours to reach it. The crew then had to wait the same length of time to find out whether or not the command was obeyed.
As it turned out, Voyager did comply with its orders. The thrusters were fired for a mere 10 milliseconds, to make small adjusments to Voyager’s course.
Voyager’s journey of discovery across space began on September 5, 1977. Th craft crossed the boundary of our Solar System in 2013.
Despite the immense distance in between Voyager and its home planet, the craft continues to beam down data daily through the Deep Space Network.
Assuming that Voyager does not collide with any object, it is expected to fly around the Milky Way for an indefinite length of time.
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