(UTN/UAS/ATIS) Kinetic Tether
Space-borne utility equipment designed to connect two objects or vessels together with high durability for utility purposes such as towing or salvage.
Lack of ferrous elements in modern starship hull metallurgy prevents magneto-based clamps. Instead, Kinetic Tethers in use since the Old Federal Era utilise physical clamps or 'spin-nets' with adjustable tension on highly durable, lightweight and retractable chain-link cables. More recent development in Gravimetric technology has allowed graviton clamps to be developed. Extreme power requirements of a fully-gravimetric Kinetic Tether prevents cable-less implementations.
Kinetic Tethers are typically launched in a similar manner to harpoons, however the payload has full-directional thrusters for guidance to the target, either manual or automatic with a variety of onboard sensors. As the clamp approaches the target, the cable rapidly unwinds up to a maximum length, typically around 5 KM. Upon contact, the clamp releases four smaller drones each with an independent cable, these drones form a 'spin-net' around the target by doing several orbits until the cables are in place.
Upon completion, the main clamp tightens the actuated cable with strong magneto locks until it is tightened within tolerances. The target may then be reeled into range of salvage vessels or adjusted to an appropriate distance for towing. ARK-class Support ships use Kinetic Tethers to pull objects into the gravimetric clamps on the external arms of the vessel, in a similar fashion to the concept of a 'tractor beam'.