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“If I could come up with another absurd detail, I would”
August 10, 2014 8:40 PM   Subscribe


 
What a nice story.
posted by JHarris at 8:45 PM on August 10 [3 favorites]


I don't think William Gibson put this exact scenario in one of his novels, but he could have.
posted by emjaybee at 8:53 PM on August 10 [7 favorites]


Fuckin' A cool.
posted by 724A at 8:56 PM on August 10


This was posted a month after it was determined that the hydrazine tanks powering the thrusters didn't have sufficient nitrogen pressure to be fired. It missed the moon's gravity well today, so it'll be back in Earth's vicinity in 2031.
posted by figurant at 8:58 PM on August 10 [5 favorites]


It's not quite as fairytale as it sounds: the original goal was bit more ambitious: to actually put it into a new, controlled orbit. The team did successfully take control of the engine, but there just isn't enough propellant left after all this time to make the adjustments. The current mission is plan B.

Still. Hijacking a NASA spacecraft from a MacDonalds with cobbled-together parts.
posted by tyllwin at 9:00 PM on August 10 [5 favorites]


This one, near Moffett field? Apparently they had good fries.

Wait, what's this about a satellite?
posted by RobotVoodooPower at 9:00 PM on August 10 [3 favorites]


Ah, I searched under "McMoon" but not "ISEE3", so I missed the previous appearance. Mods, I don't know if you want to count this as a re-post, but if so delete away.
posted by Itaxpica at 9:01 PM on August 10


These people are the precursors for Planetes.
posted by Invisible Green Time-Lapse Peloton at 9:08 PM on August 10 [3 favorites]


More evidence for my theory that reality ended on 12/21/12 and we are now living in Hollywood Screenwriter Reality.
posted by hippybear at 9:23 PM on August 10 [11 favorites]


Key to their effort (sadly not mentioned in this story) was GNU Radio, which is pretty neat in its own right.
posted by Poldo at 9:25 PM on August 10 [8 favorites]


Godspeed, McMoon guys.
posted by dfm500 at 9:32 PM on August 10 [1 favorite]


The most astounding thing about this story is that there's apparently abandoned real estate in Mountain View.
posted by Halloween Jack at 9:35 PM on August 10 [10 favorites]


Way more Sterling than Gibson, I think.
posted by thedaniel at 9:35 PM on August 10 [9 favorites]


The most astounding thing about this story is that there's apparently abandoned real estate in Mountain View.
There are a ton of empty / abandoned storefronts throughout SV. I'm only surprised that no one is buying them up and turning them into capsule hotels condos.
posted by b1tr0t at 9:40 PM on August 10


If they were 12 or 13 years old instead of twentysomething, this would be straight out of the kind of books I read when I was a kid.
posted by George_Spiggott at 9:57 PM on August 10 [4 favorites]


Godspeed, McMoon guys.

Indeed.
posted by Sys Rq at 10:01 PM on August 10 [2 favorites]


For their next mission, perhaps they could do something about that out-of-control lizard sex satellite.
posted by Jacqueline at 10:07 PM on August 10 [4 favorites]


I guessed that it had to be the abandoned McDonald's on Moffett Field the moment I saw this post on the front page. I took some photos of it in 2011, it's cool that the pirate flag is still there.
posted by oneirodynia at 10:08 PM on August 10


figurant: "didn't have sufficient nitrogen pressure to be fired."

That really bummed me out especially since everything I read about this up until recently was that the satellite had plenty of thruster fuel. Oh well. Still really cool what these folks did.
posted by InsertNiftyNameHere at 10:13 PM on August 10


5 years ago another space project in a Mountain View McDonald's (the same McDonald's, I think): That's no Moon. Or a McDonald's. WTF?.
posted by ShooBoo at 10:17 PM on August 10 [2 favorites]


This is the same McDonalds that had the Lunar Orbiter Image Recovery Project running out of it 2008 or so, right? (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lunar_Orbiter_Image_Recovery_Project)

That's a scientifically significant McDonalds!

jinx!
posted by drewbage1847 at 10:18 PM on August 10 [5 favorites]


That really bummed me out especially since everything I read about this up until recently was that the satellite had plenty of thruster fuel. Oh well. Still really cool what these folks did.

I think we can take comfort in the fact that a spacecraft that's pushing 40 is still remarkably functional. I'm probably doing worse than that probe, and I'm half a decade younger and I haven't spent those years in high-radiation vacuum.
posted by figurant at 10:29 PM on August 10 [4 favorites]


Drewbage, thank you so much! I knew that this was giving me a tingling sense of déjà cu, but the details didn't seem quite right.
posted by Yowser at 11:07 PM on August 10 [1 favorite]


emjaybee: "I don't think William Gibson put this exact scenario in one of his novels, but he could have."

There were definitely pirate satellites in the Bruce Stirling novel Distraction though.
posted by pwnguin at 11:52 PM on August 10 [1 favorite]


I have a feeling this is going to turn into a "voyager exits the solar system" type of thing, where very time someone runs a mission out of this lab space that used to be a McDonalds, we get to re-run the same article.

I ate there in 2007 and can confirm that the fries were fresh.
posted by Phssthpok at 11:59 PM on August 10 [2 favorites]


I like the alternate reality better, where they're doing this out of a barbershop and also operating as an actual barbershop and occasionally breaking into song about the latest satellite happenings.
posted by mannequito at 12:09 AM on August 11 [8 favorites]


In that reality they would also be surreptitiously installing a WarKitteh-like distributed antenna array amongst their customers' hairdos that would have something to do with controlling the satellite.
posted by XMLicious at 1:01 AM on August 11 [1 favorite]


This is making me wonder something though.

If there's just satellites up there, drifting around unsecured and solar powered, that can be controlled with off the shelf ebay-able components... what's to stop someone from hijacking an old disused satellite and using it as a weapon against another satellite by ramming it? Or causing a satellites smashing into each other chain reaction? etc.

I realize this sounds like something that would be the premise of a reboot to hackers, but it seems just plausible enough to make me raise an eyebrow.
posted by emptythought at 4:10 AM on August 11 [2 favorites]


what's to stop someone from hijacking an old disused satellite and using it as a weapon against another satellite by ramming it? Or causing a satellites smashing into each other chain reaction?

because space is big?
posted by indubitable at 4:40 AM on August 11 [1 favorite]


emptythought: If there's just satellites up there, drifting around unsecured and solar powered, that can be controlled with off the shelf ebay-able components... what's to stop someone from hijacking an old disused satellite and using it as a weapon against another satellite by ramming it?

As long as they do it from an abandoned fast food restaurant, I'm all for it. Preferably, an Arby's.
posted by dr_dank at 5:01 AM on August 11 [1 favorite]


"Silent blessing"? I suppose it makes a good story, but someone missed the press release.
posted by exogenous at 5:06 AM on August 11


Not mentioned in this article, these guys are the first non-governmental organization to ever establish two-way communication with a spacecraft beyond Earth orbit.
posted by localroger at 5:16 AM on August 11 [3 favorites]


On reflection I think it's best that it continues on its old orbit, to be a sort of monument and potential future tourist attraction.
posted by Segundus at 5:17 AM on August 11


these guys are the first non-governmental organization to ever establish two-way communication with a spacecraft beyond Earth orbit

So far as you know.
posted by Segundus at 5:18 AM on August 11 [4 favorites]


The most astounding thing about this story is that there's apparently abandoned real estate in Mountain View.

AND THAT THE PEOPLE WHO OWN IT ARE LETTING SOMEBODY USE IT FOR FREE!
posted by The Underpants Monster at 6:00 AM on August 11 [4 favorites]


Thank god someone saved those poor geckos!
posted by Naberius at 6:08 AM on August 11


what's to stop someone from hijacking an old disused satellite and using it as a weapon against another satellite by ramming it? Or causing a satellites smashing into each other chain reaction?

Well, it may be using McMission Control now, but to actually gain control of the satellite, they had to get time on transmitters at Arecibo. And they were working from the original design and operation documents. So the bar is a little higher for that.
posted by tyllwin at 6:23 AM on August 11 [1 favorite]


Their interactive auto-documentary (linked in the article) is really cool, although ultimately a little depressing.
posted by pjenks at 6:38 AM on August 11


There were definitely pirate satellites in the Bruce Stirling novel Distraction though.

Ah, well, I'm behind on my Sterling. Maybe I'll pick that one up.
posted by emjaybee at 7:00 AM on August 11


AND THAT THE PEOPLE WHO OWN IT ARE LETTING SOMEBODY USE IT FOR FREE!

When they were given a choice of buildings (each presumably with utilities) I kind of assumed NASA owned the buildings.
posted by maryr at 7:12 AM on August 11


Another absurd detail:

“There were a few abandoned buildings — one was a barbershop, and one was an abandoned McDonald’s,” Mr. Cowing said. “Someone hit the barbershop with a truck, so we took the McDonald’s.”
posted by TedW at 7:13 AM on August 11 [1 favorite]


Read that as "Civilians in Abandoned Wandering Space Satellite Seize Control of McDonald’s"

I prefer that future.
posted by blue_beetle at 7:39 AM on August 11 [6 favorites]


Way more Sterling than Gibson, I think.

I was going to say almost exactly that.
posted by chimaera at 7:52 AM on August 11


This is the most amazing thing that has ever amazed.
posted by corb at 9:25 AM on August 11


I've been following ISEE-3 closely, I chipped in a few bucks for the indieagogo campaign to fund the attempted rescue. Super fun, this kind of space science is just accessible enough to be appreciated by a gentleman scientist like me.

One of the most fun things was watching the live telemetry during the attempts to operate the boosters. Reading the tweets in real time and watching the blinking lights in response.

Google just put out a Chrome experiment visualizing the satellite, its orbital path and live data off of it. Fun stuff.
posted by Nelson at 10:31 AM on August 11


The most astounding thing about this story is that there's apparently abandoned real estate in Mountain View.

Technically Mountain View, but not really. That McDonalds is on the grounds of Moffett Field. Also located at Moffett: NASA-Ames Research Center.

Note that now, anyone with a driver's license can get into Moffett Field. It used to be an active military base, but the Navy left in '93. The McDonalds closed around 2005. Google has a growing presence at Moffett. There's a closed movie theater and bowling alley adjacent to the McDonalds, but I wouldn't characterize any of these structures as 'abandoned' -- 'moth-balled' is more like it.
posted by Rash at 10:45 AM on August 11


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