Space Aged: 10 Spacecraft from Decades Past That Are Still Ticking [Slide Show]

Whether peering into deep space or checking on human activity, spacecraft and satellites from days gone by are still on the job
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LAGEOS 1 (1976):

The LAGEOS 1 (Laser Geodynamics Satellite) and its younger counterpart LAGEOS 2, launched in 1992, are passive satellites, meaning there is precious little to break or go wrong. The LAGEOS twins are 60-centimeter-wide spheres with 426 reflectors each, designed to provide ground stations with a reference point for accurate ranging data.....[ More ]


Thanks to a series of complex servicing missions by space shuttle astronauts, the Hubble Space Telescope, deployed one shuttle flight prior to the now-defunct Ulysses, is still going strong 19 years into its operational life.....[ More ]

LANDSAT 5 (1984):

The U.S. Geological Survey's Earth-observing Landsat 5 has captured hundreds of thousands of photographs of our changing planet in its 25 years on orbit. (The U.S. Geological Survey says the satellite was designed for three years of service.) The orbiter has tracked the aftermath of the Chernobyl nuclear disaster and the burn scars left by fires in Yellowstone National Park.....[ More ]

ISEE 3/ICE (1978):

The third spacecraft of the International Sun–Earth Explorer (ISEE) program began its work in an orbit between the sun and Earth. From its position there, ISEE 3 monitored cosmic gamma-ray bursts and solar flares before being rechristened the International Cometary Explorer (ICE) in 1982.....[ More ]

GOES 7 (1987):

Another member of the Geostationary Operational Environmental Satellite family, GOES 7 was launched in 1987 and served its purpose as a meteorological observer for a dozen years. Having expended the fuel needed to maintain its orbit over the equator and beginning to drift to higher latitudes, the satellite was transitioned by NOAA to PEACESAT, a nonprofit that provides communication and educational services to the Pacific Islands.....[ More ]

PIONEER 6 (1965):

The solar-orbiting Pioneer spacecraft numbered 6 through 9 were early explorers of interplanetary phenomena such as cosmic rays and the newly confirmed solar wind. Pioneer 6, the first of the four craft to launch, was still ticking as recently as 2000 —ground controllers locked onto the spacecraft for a few hours to commemorate the 35th anniversary of its launch.....[ More ]

VOYAGERS 1 AND 2 (1977):

Voyager 1, having journeyed for more than 30 years, is now the farthest man-made object in the universe at more than 10 billion miles from the sun. Voyager 2 is taking a slower route that allowed flybys of Uranus and Neptune—the first and only space probe to do so.....[ More ]

AMSAT-OSCAR 7 (1974):

A satellite launched for amateur radio communications in 1974, AMSAT–OSCAR 7 (AO 7) fell dormant in 1981 when a battery failed. In 2002, however, a ham radio user picked up a signal from the aging orbiter's beacon.....[ More ]

TDRS 1 (1983):

The first of NASA's Tracking and Data Relay Satellites (TDRS) was released from space shuttle Challenger in 1983—its deployment is shown in the photograph above. The TDRS system provides a communications network between the ground and spacecraft and satellites in low Earth orbit.....[ More ]

GOES 3 (1978):

Geostationary Operational Environmental Satellite 3 (GOES 3) was the third in a series of National Oceanic & Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) weather satellites designed to maintain a fixed position relative to Earth.....[ More ]

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