Tethering is a mechanic that allows pilots with docking permission to stay close to an upwell structure without being targetable and without taking damage from area of effect weapons. Note that you can still be bumped until you are out of tethering range thus breaking the tether.
In addition to making your ship safe, tethering will also repair your ship shield, armor, hull, modules and drones while also repleshining your capacitor.
The following actions do not break tether:
- Move around in space as long as you remain close to the structure.
- Use the directional scanner.
- Using non offensive modules such as probe launcher, hardeners, propulsion modules and repairers.
The following actions or conditions will break tether:
- Locking a target – will break immediately as lock starts, and won't refresh until target unlocked.
- Moving outside the tethering range (see range below).
- Activating specific modules, as below:
- Burst Jammer module.
- Command Burst module.
- Cynosural Field Generator.
- Siege module.
- Triage module.
- Bastion module
The following actions or conditions will prevent tethering:
- Having an active weapon timer.
- If you're warp disrupted or scrambled so that the offensive strength overcomes your defensive warp core strength (see warp disruption for more information).
- If you do not have docking rights at the structure.
- A ship that has been ejected from and is unpiloted will not be tethered. Your pod however, will be immediately tethered.
While tethered you're unable to take certain actions:
- Cannot activate smartbombs.
- Cannot launch bombs from a bomb launcher.
As of the May 26th 2020 patch, structures that have not had an active service module for around 7 days will enter the "Abandoned" state. When a structure is abandoned, tethering is disabled. Ships can still dock in an abandoned structure, but they will not be tethered. When a service module is restarted, tethering will be restored.
Tethering is indicated as an external effect on your ship along with a visual indicator of a faint blue line projecting towards your ship from the citadel.
Tethering is activated upon undocking or entering a 10km range from the citadel docking ring. Since the docking ring itself extends far away from the structure, it means you can move around up to 80 - 100km from the undock.
Shortly after being tethered, the structure will repair any modules fitted to your ship as well as drones in your drone bay. This includes completely burnt out modules, although once repaired you will need to online the module in order to use it. While drones in your drone bay will be repaired, drones in space will not. Items in your cargo hold will not be affected by the automatic repairs.
Since there are a lot of public citadels and engineering complexes in high security space (that will allow anyone to dock) you can quickly and effortlessly warp to a nearby public structure to repair any damaged modules or drones, saving you from using nanite paste or pay for repairs.