Yes. Voyager 1. The vehicle that is Billions of Kilometers away from the Earth, and is the furthest man-made “object in interstellar space, the environment between the stars”.
Suzanne Dodd, project manager for Voyager at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory said that:
“With these thrusters that are still functional after 37 years without use, we will be able to extend the life of the Voyager 1 spacecraft by two to three years.”
“The Voyager flight team dug up decades-old data and examined the software that was coded in an outdated assembler language, to make sure we could safely test the thrusters,” said Chris Jones, chief engineer at JPL.
On November 28th, the engineers tried the TCM thrusters and tested its functions. The signal from Earth to Voyager 1 took 19 hours and 35 minutes.
The test was a resounding success.
Voyager 1 hadn’t used its four “trajectory correction maneuver” (TCM) thrusters since November 1980, during the spacecraft’s last planetary flyby — an epic encounter with Saturn. But mission team members fired them up again Tuesday (Nov. 28), to see whether the TCM thrusters were still ready for primetime.
This week, the scientists and engineers on the Voyager team did something very special. They commanded the spacecraft to fire a set of four trajectory thrusters for the first time in 37 years to determine their ability to orient the spacecraft using 10-millisecond pulses.
The thruster test went so well, the team will likely do a similar test on the TCM thrusters for Voyager 2, the twin spacecraft of Voyager 1. The attitude control thrusters currently used for Voyager 2 are not yet as degraded as Voyager 1’s, however.
Voyager 2 is also on course to enter interstellar space, likely within the next few years.