Re: TSS - Dumb Question

Philip Chien (
Sun, 3 Mar 1996 23:58:59 -0400

Jim Varney  <> said:

>The astronauts reported, and I saw on NASA TV, that the end of the tether
>appeared "charred."  It did have a black, burned appearance.
>Dumb question: how does something "char" in space when there is no oxygen
>present to oxidize the material?

Recall what Mission Operations Directorate representative Lee Briscoe
cautioned the press about speculating afterwards:

the description of a discolored jacket for the tether, similar to how the
end of a rope might look after you've melted it with a match to prevent it
from unravelling, is an observation.

concluding that it was due to charing, or an electrical short, is a
conclusion without having all of the facts in hand.

The misinformed general media will continue to speculate about what
happened and continue to comment that 'NASA still doesn't know why the
tether snapped'.  The engineers and failure investigation board will wait
for the tether to be returned and examined before jumping to any

Philip Chien, Earth News - space writer and consultant  PCHIEN@IDS.NET
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