Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Bats In Space

Space exploration is risky business, even for little animals. According to a Freetail Bat that thought it had found a comfortable place to roost appears to have perished during the launch of Space Shuttle Discovery the other day.

NASA knew it was there; they even commissioned a report to make sure its presence wouldn't hurt the huge external fuel tank the bat was tenaciously clinging to. But they were hoping the bat would fly safely away when the engines began to fire, just like all the other bats (and there have been several) in the past. But this particular bat was made of sterner stuff and rode the thing all the way up until observers lost sight of it.

But, in an attempt to comfort us, as government agencies frequently do, a NASA official reported that, "The animal likely perished quickly during Discovery's climb into orbit."

The little creature didn't make it into orbit though. Quite apart from the inability of any bat to hold onto an object traveling at 17,000 miles per hour, the external fuel tank it loved so much was jettisoned at 122 miles up and plunged into the Indian Ocean, breaking up as it fell.

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