Radio contact with the Voyager 1 spacecraft was lost late Thursday afternoon following maneuver to refine its flight path to Saturn, it was announced by the Jet Propulsion Laboratory. Hours later very weak signal was detected by the tracking station in Spain.
The spacecraft, 660 million miles from Earth, has been commanded to turn in space, breaking its communications link with Earth, and ignite on-board thrusters for the course correction. An automatic program should have turned Voyager back to the proper attitude for its antenna to be pointed at Earth. Apparently this did not happen.
Efforts are under way at JPL to establish contact.
Voyager 1 was launched September 5, 1977, flew past Jupiter in March of this year and will reach Saturn in November 1980.
JPL manages the Voyager Project for NASA.