Astro-bat feared dead after shuttle launch

Mar 18, 2009

The seven astronauts onboard the space shuttle Discovery had an unexpected companion during their liftoff from the Kennedy Space Center earlier this week, the US space agency said.

According to NASA, the crew was joined by a free tail bat, which clung to the side of Discovery's as it rocketed toward the heavens.

" imagery analysis confirmed that he held on until at least the vehicle cleared (the) tower before we lost sight of him," a NASA memo obtained by .com said.

"He did change the direction he was pointing from time to time throughout countdown, but ultimately never flew away.

"Infrared imagery shows he was alive and not frozen like many would think."

While glued to the tank -- containing two million liters (half a million gallons) of liquid hydrogen rocket fuel -- animal experts believe the bat also had to contend with a broken left wing and a sore right shoulder, or wrist.

The bat's current health and whereabouts are not known, although NASA believes his was short-lived.

"The animal likely perished quickly during Discovery's climb into orbit," a NASA official said.

The bat was not the first of its species to attempt space travel. Another bat was seen gripping the external tank of the Endeavour in 1996 and one briefly clung to the Columbia space in 1998 but flew off before liftoff.

(c) 2009 AFP

Explore further: Cassini sees sunny seas on Titan

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Recommended for you

Cassini sees sunny seas on Titan

18 hours ago

(Phys.org) —As it soared past Saturn's large moon Titan recently, NASA's Cassini spacecraft caught a glimpse of bright sunlight reflecting off hydrocarbon seas.

Is space tourism safe or do civilians risk health effects?

22 hours ago

Several companies are developing spacecraft designed to take ordinary citizens, not astronauts, on short trips into space. "Space tourism" and short periods of weightlessness appear to be safe for most individuals ...

An unmanned rocket exploded. So what?

Oct 30, 2014

Sputnik was launched more than 50 years ago. Since then we have seen missions launched to Mercury, Mars and to all the planets within the solar system. We have sent a dozen men to the moon and many more to ...

NASA image: Sunrise from the International Space Station

Oct 30, 2014

NASA astronaut Reid Wiseman posted this image of a sunrise, captured from the International Space Station, to social media on Oct. 29, 2014. Wiseman wrote, "Not every day is easy. Yesterday was a tough one. ...

Copernicus operations secured until 2021

Oct 30, 2014

In a landmark agreement for Europe's Copernicus programme, the European Commission and ESA have signed an Agreement of over €3 billion to manage and implement the Copernicus 'space component' between 2014 ...

User comments : 2

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

LariAnn
1.5 / 5 (2) Mar 18, 2009
That just goes to show that some astronauts are just, well, batty.
MaxMax
not rated yet Mar 20, 2009
Funny cartoon about Astro-bat's dream.
http://www.leblog...bat.html

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.