Trivia

Hard

What Cable Wrangling Technique Kept Wires Tidy During NASA’s Moon Missions?

Cable Lacing
Shrink Sleeving
Loop Bundling
Wire Braiding
Cable lacing on the Mars Curiosity Rover.
NASA

Answer: Cable Lacing

These days, we secure our cables with Velcro straps and the ubiquitous plastic zip ties (also called cable ties). In an age before zip ties, however, cables were contained in a more organic and hand-crafted way.

How organic and hand-crafted? Although there are minor variations in cable lacing techniques across geographic regions and applications, the core of the technique is consistent. The wires are neatly bundled using spools of wax-impregnated cotton or linen string—a sort of heavy-duty dental floss, if you will. Flat lacing tapes made of modern materials such as nylon, polyester, Teflon, fiberglass, and Nomex with a variety of coatings to improve knot holding are also used sometimes now.

At set intervals along the cable bundle, the string is laced around it using a simple knot (or a combination of two types of knots in some cases). This continues for the whole length of the cable run, also being repeated whenever a new cable joins in. The finished product, even when compared to modern cable securing techniques, has a few advantages. The chances, for example, of grossly deforming or abrading the cable insulation is nearly zero and the cable lacing itself adds so little bulk to the bundle of wires that sliding the bundle through conduits is easy since there are little to no protrusions to snag on the conduit.

Amateur radio operators, electronics hobbyists, NASA engineers, and more have all used a technique known as “cable lacing” to secure permanent cable runs. When we put a man on the moon, all those hundreds of feet of cables deep within the moon lander were carefully and artfully secured with NASA’s precise cable lacing techniques.

Although the method has largely fallen out of favor, it is still practiced by NASA in specific applications (as specified in NASA Technical Standard NASA-STD-8739.4—Crimping, Interconnecting Cables, Harnesses, and Wiring). In the photo here, you can see traditional cable lacing used on the Curiosity rover on Mars. The technique has undergone something of a revival in the last few years, and a cursory internet search will turn up dozens of tutorials showing you how to lace your cables like it’s 1969.

Trivia

Very Hard

Which Of These Halloween Movies Was Critically Panned, But Became A Cult Classic?

Trivia

Hard

Which State Contains Both The Highest And Lowest Point In The Contiguous United States?

Trivia

Hard

In The U.S. Air Force It Is A Good Luck Tradition For New Pilots To?

Trivia

Hard

The First Radio Jingle Was An Advertisement For Which Of These Products?

Trivia

Hard

Which Two Comic Book Icons Shared The Same Movie Set Mansion?

Trivia

Very Hard

Which Of These Animals Is Associated With Halloween Because Romans Believed Witches Shape-Shifted Into Them?

Trivia

Very Hard

The Greenish Tint Seen On The Edges Of Tempered Glass Is Caused By?

Trivia

Hard

Where Is The Most Remote Geocache Located?

Trivia

Very Hard

Due To Early Industry Limitations, Silent Films Were Recorded In?

Trivia

Easy

Among The Many Types Of Alcohol, The Type We Drink Is?