Telescope manufacturer Ball Aerospace came up with a plan to use two wheels and a combination of pressure from sunlight and tiny thruster burns to maintain orientation.
"After the loss of the second reaction wheel there were many doubters that we could do anything to repurpose the spacecraft," Kepler project scientist Steve Howell, said at the American Astronomical Society meeting in Boston this week.
Any lingering doubts ended last week when Kepler completed a 5.5-week engineering test to check out its new pointing system.
NEWS: Hunt Intensifies for Aliens on Kepler's Planets
"We drift about one pixel about every six hours and then we thruster fire and return to the same position. It's a very, very good pointing," astronomer Thomas Barclay, with NASA's Ames Research Center in Moffett Field, Calif., said at the American Astronomical Society meeting in Boston this week.
In its first nine days of science observations, the K2 campaign already has turned up three more candidate planets, all around the size of Jupiter, circling relatively bright stars, Barclay said.