Contact with NASA's Voyager 1 spacecraft was re established tonight following series of commands transmitted from Earth, ordering Voyager to re-orient itself in space with its antenna pointed to Earth.
It had been determined that loss of radio contact with the craft on Thursday was due to the spacecraft's communication antenna being pointed away from Earth.
This occurred when an optical sensor had locked on the star Alpha Centauri instead of the star Canopus, placing the spacecraft in the wrong orientation for communication with Earth. Why this occurred it being analyzed.
Contact was lost following course-correction maneuver in space, during which radio communication is blacked out, after which the spacecraft should have assumed the proper orientation for radio communications to Earth.
Voyager was 660 million miles from Earth when contact was lost.
The craft is en-route to Saturn for November, 1980, rendezvous and was launched in September, 1977.
JPL manages the Voyager Mission for NASA.