Thank you for visiting the Deep Space 1 mission status information site, now in its third week on the list of most frequently visited logged sources in the solar system for information on this technology validation mission. This message was logged in at 9:00 pm Pacific Time on Tuesday, November 10.
The Deep Space 1 mission continues to go well. After a series of preparations for the first test of thrusting with the ion propulsion system during the last two weeks, the test was begun today. The thruster started normally and operated for about 4 and a half minutes before stopping. This is common behavior for ion thrusters of this design that have been operated in ground tests as well as smaller systems that have operated in space. The operations team sent a number of commands to try to restart the ion propulsion system; each time the system went through its normal start-up routine but was unable to achieve thrusting. Valuable diagnostic data were collected, and the team observed that the rest of the spacecraft behaved exactly as planned during the brief interval of thrusting and during subsequent attempts to restart the thruster.
Today's planned test of the ion propulsion system will be conducted once the resolution of the premature shutdown is found. In the meantime, other technology validation activities will continue while a portion of the team analyzes the data and formulates a plan for subsequent ion propulsion system operations.
Deep Space 1's charter is to characterize the performance of 12 high-risk, high-payoff technologies that are important for future space science missions, so the ongoing diagnosis of the thruster's behavior is in keeping with the mission's goals. The team has many options to pursue in restarting the ion thruster, and will proceed with the prudence that is always necessary in operating a probe in deep space.
Deep Space 1 is now more than 7 times as far away as the moon.