Tuesday, March 17, 2009

First bat in space - or maybe partway.

Seems that Sunday's launch of STS-119 had one extra crew member. Since seating was full on board, the extra crew member now known as "bat-ronaut" rode outside on the external tank. He must have been a later addition to the crew since he doesn't appear to be wearing an official mission patch on his sleeve.
You can see him clinging to the tank earlier in the day awaiting his trip to space. It's always a long wait for launch and relaxed astronauts have been known to fall asleep while waiting. He was one of those pretending to be a veteran astronaut so nervousness wouldn't give him away as a stowaway.
Around sunset he got his wish and headed into space!
It's not known if he reached his goal of being the first bat in space, but if he was lucky maybe he made it past throttle up? Closer examination of photos would be needed to see of he reached space to obtain his "bat-ronaut" wings. I have a feeling he may have failed in his attempt.
Godspeed bat-ronaut!

(click photos to enlarge)

UPDATE: Seems that bat-ronaut died in the 1400 degree C exhaust from the SRBs, but he possibly did clear the tower. Probably let go before max-Q for sure. Still, this is pretty darn cool for a bat! (See update on Universe Today)

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