“The STS 117 Space Worm”

The following article and videos were contributed By John Locker - John has been imaging ISS and shuttle flights for a number of years using ground based equipment. This article is based on an item previously published by “Space Weather.com”

There has been some discussion recently amongst UFO groups about the mysterious object spotted during the Atlantis fly-around ( STS 117 ) back in June, 2007. Hailed by some to be similar to Storey Musgrave's "alien" worm, the twisting and turning artefact was caught on camera as Atlantis performed a loop around the International Space station prior to departure.

Spacecraft imager, John Locker comments:
“ It's inevitable that during such complex missions as STS 117 , where a number of EVA ( spacewalks ) are undertaken , some bits of kit will be lost. These can range from small nuts and bolts/fasteners , to spanners and straps/tethers. For example , July 2006  spacewalker Piers Sellers  reported that he lost a spatula. It was nicknamed "spatsat" eventually burning up three months later! Also observed from regular waste dumps, are dried-up urine, toothpaste, ice and even shaving cream. In fact its claimed that an Indonesian satellite was damaged by frozen urine .......and worse. But , its no joking matter. Many of these pieces of space junk have the capacity to kill astronauts, puncture satellites or take chunks out of the shuttle cabin windows.

This recent case featured  an object possibly a metre  or  two in length. It is clearly seen to float between shuttle and the station, which is just 200 metres away. Anything of this size is severely affected by the perturbations of space and particularly short blasts by the shuttle's manoeuvring motors....consequently it twists and turns”

So what is it ?

“There's no doubt that the object is either ISS or Atlantis related. There are a number of options, the most obvious perhaps being a restraint strap or short tether from the payload bay.”

What about ice ?

Jim McDade, a technology and science commentator, comments :
" Sheets and chunks of ice have been flying off of spacecraft since the Mercury days. Don't forget John Glenn's fireflies. Ice tends to dance and roll as it sublimates in the microgravity, near vacuum of space. It looks spooky, but a lot of things look spooky when set into the context of a space environment. The laws of physics don't change, but the behaviour of materials does change when alternate G force levels, temperature extremes, altered electrostatic effects, and a near vacuum characterize the environment. "

Let’s leave the last word with NASA, continues John.....

Mike Suffredini, manager of the space station program at the Johnson Space Center in Houston adds:
"During separation, you may have noticed what looked like a white object leaving the international space station, the orbiter was quite a bit away,"  "We're off looking at that object to see if it was actually a station or a shuttle object. When we complete that review, we'll share that information with you."

So.... just a mundane piece of debris that gave a great visual demonstration of how objects behave in space. Forget the space worms......they can stay in the fantasy world  of UFOlogy.

                   The real world is much more fascinating ! "

You can see samples of John Locker’s work on his webpages at:

Also see some daylight images in which the Space Station looks remarkably like a TIE Fighter  as it streaks across the sky at 17,000 mph at:

Get the Flash Player to see this player.


Get the Flash Player to see this player.

This clip from STS 115 , September 2006 , demonstrates exactly what Jim is referring to. It shows a remarkable , Mantis like piece of ice that has broken away. Notice how it twists , turns and bends as it starts to break up.   "Strange Alien worm that inhabits outer-space?  Afraid not - the explanation is less exotic but far more realistic and "honest".

There is no doubt that, historically, there have been numerous misidentifications and misinterpretations of incidents and events by those involved in Ufology. This seems especially apparent regarding the various NASA Missions. John's article does expertly illustrate how misinformed or mistaken some of those involved in Ufology can be at times.

The WHY? Files invites sensible responses to John's article - is Ufology really a "world of fantasy" ?

Please respond to admin@thewhyfiles.net
Please state if you object to our  publishing your response.