STS-75: The Tether Incident

On Sunday, February 25, 1996, the Space Shuttle Columbia deployed an experimental tether into orbit. The experiment was called the Tethered Satellite System (TSS- 1R) and it's purpose of this was to attempt to generate electricity by utilizing Earth's magnetic field.

Unfortunately the tether broke so the experiment was not a success, although approximately five hours of data were recorded.

What really made "The Tether Incident" famous was the appearance of many unidentified flying objects (UFOs) clearly visible in the NASA footage. Conspiracy theorists rejected NASA's explanation of space debris and ice particles, while conspiracy debunkers pointed out that the UFO theory doesn't stack up. For example, if the UFOs were as big as the conspiracy theorists claim, they would have been clearly visible from the ground.

Date: February 1996
Credit: NASA

STS-75 Shuttle Crew:

  • Andrew M. Allen (3), Commander
  • Scott J. Horowitz (1), Pilot
  • Franklin R. Chang-Diaz (5), Payload Commander
  • Maurizio Cheli (1), Mission Specialist (ESA)
  • Jeffrey A. Hoffman (5), Mission Specialist
  • Claude Nicollier (3), Mission Specialist (ESA)
  • Umberto Guidoni (1), Payload Specialist (Italy)