The thrusters had not been in use for 37 years, since Voyager 1 made its trip past Saturn.
Launched in 1977, Voyager 1 is the only spacecraft traveling through interstellar space, the region beyond our solar system.
If you tried to start a vehicle that's been sitting in a garage for decades, you might not expect the engine to respond.
NASA believes this will extend the lifespan of the Voyager 1 for another two or three years, with its power finally expected to deplete sometime in 2020.
The spacecraft has been using small devices called "attitude control thrusters" to orient itself so it can communicate with Earth, but the thrusters have been degrading since 2014, according to NASA, according to Xinhua as quoted by The Hindu, Saturday (12/2/2017).
NASA engineers have fired up 40-year-old technology from a distance of 13 billion miles.
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But after four decades of exploration which have taken in fly-bys of Jupiter and Saturn, engineers found that the primary thrusters which orient the space probe had severely degraded. The engineers used trajectory correction maneuver (TCM) thrusters to accurately detect the spacecraft's location. They also hadn't been switched on since the craft's encounter with Saturn in 1980 and had never been used for the goal of orienting the craft for communication.
Voyager 1, launched in 1997 to investigate the solar system and beyond is traveling at a speed of 38,000 miles per hour (relative to the sun).
"The Voyager team got more excited each time with each milestone in the thruster test".
All of Voyager's thrusters were developed by Aerojet Rocketdyne. It's on course to enter interstellar space within the next few years, and the team plan to do a similar test on its back-up thrusters for potential future use.
The Voyager 1 engineers finally managed to fire up four TCM thrusters of the spacecraft first time in 37 long years on November 28.
The following day, they learned the thrusters worked perfectly. "The mood was one of relief, joy and incredulity after witnessing these well-rested thrusters pick up the baton as if no time had passed at all", said Barber, a JPL propulsion engineer.