The 75th Space Transportation System mission, now synonymous with the infamous “UFO Tether Incident” of 1996, was a space shuttle mission flown by Space Shuttle Columbia. While in space, a satellite tethered to the Space Shuttle broke off, drifting into space and away from the crew of Columbia. The crew, instructed to record video of the incident for post-mission review, captured an eerie sight as the satellite appeared to be swarmed by hundreds of UFO’s, giving the illusion of a sea full of swimming organisms around it. The video, published by NASA, sparked hundreds of debates over the years as to the validity of the incident and what exactly the swarming objects were. One of history’s most infamous UFO cases, the “Tether Incident” has enthralled alien enthusiasts for years.
Fiction or Fact?
Astronaut Tom Jones, part of the Columbia crew, discussed the incident in Smithsonian Air & Space Magazine in 2016, giving what he calls “conclusive proof of” the unbelievable video footage. He has flown four different space shuttle missions over 11 years and explains that the mysterious objects are actually pretty straightforward. He stated that “astronauts have not seen any evidence of alien life. Reports of unidentified flying objects in images returned from the shuttle or [space] station have turned out to be ice crystals, drifting orbital debris, lightning flashes, or meteors streaking through the dark atmosphere below.”
Jones also reported that NASA received numerous inquiries about the footage when it was released, and that the public affairs team directed callers to him since he was a crew member on the flight. He went on to say that even though the objects seemed significant to viewers, they were ordinary occurrences for crew members looking out of the windows.
The Mystery Lives On
Despite Jones’ explanation of the incident, skeptics continue to believe there’s more to the story. NASA and the astronauts who lead the missions are thought to be hiding the truth from the public. Conspiracy theorists counter that there are numerous NASA personnel who have confirmed UFOs and alien sightings. While some NASA representatives have remained silent in fear, others have openly spoken out about aliens and their personal experiences with UFOs. Edgar Mitchell, the sixth astronaut to set foot on the moon, recounts his beliefs, even touting evidence that aliens have made contact with the U.S. government. In many of his public interviews, his outspokenness about alien life validated believers and continued to leave viewers wondering about the possibility of life outside of earth’s borders. Although Mitchell did admit that many of the UFO sightings were misguided and most likely planes, stars, comets, and the like, he affirmed his belief in the reality of existing extraterrestrial life.
After this interview, NASA reached out to comment that the organization does not track UFOs and is not involved in the cover up about alien life in the universe, however, critics are quick to point out that Mitchell’s statement is still validated despite NASA’s public announcement. If Mitchell’s position did allow him to be privy to top-secret information about the United States Space exploration program, it’s possible that he is, in fact, aware of evidence that would prove extraterrestrial life. The world may never know if there’s really something out there, but we can look to valuable pieces of information like these statements to weigh professional opinions and ponder the possible reality of alien existence.