Bat hitches a ride on space shuttle

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crayegg
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Bat hitches a ride on space shuttle

Post by crayegg » Thu Mar 19, 2009 2:04 pm

From Space.com:

A small bat that was spotted blasting off with the space shuttle Sunday and clinging to the back side of Discovery's external fuel tank apparently held on throughout the launch.

NASA hoped the bat would fly away before the spacecraft's Sunday evening liftoff, but photos from the launch now show the bat holding on for dear life throughout the fiery ride.

"He did change the direction he was pointing from time to time throughout countdown but ultimately never flew away," states a NASA memo obtained by SPACE.com. "Infrared imagery shows he was alive and not frozen like many would think ... Liftoff imagery analysis confirmed that he held on until at least the vehicle cleared [the] tower before we lost sight of him."

Officials at NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral, Fla., where Discovery launched from a seaside pad, said the bat's outlook after launch appears grim.

"Based on images and video, a wildlife expert who provides support to the center said the small creature was a free tail bat that likely had a broken left wing and some problem with its right shoulder or wrist," NASA officials said Tuesday. "The animal likely perished quickly during Discovery's climb into orbit."

Because the Kennedy Space Center is also home to Florida's Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge, NASA's launch pads are equipped with several countermeasures, including warning sirens, to ward off birds and other wildlife. NASA also relies on radar to make sure large flocks of birds won't be struck by the shuttle during liftoff.

But the bat on Discovery's tank did not budge, even after engine ignition.

The bat was perched between one quarter and one third of the way up on the north side of the fuel tank, which is the side that faces away from the orbiter. NASA estimated the surface temperature of the tank at that location was between 58 and 70 degrees Fahrenheit, even though the canister was filled with super-cold liquid hydrogen and liquid oxygen.

In the hours before Discovery's liftoff, NASA's Final Inspection Team (called the "ICE team") investigated whether the creature would pose a risk to the shuttle if its body impacted the orbiter's sensitive heat shield tiling. Ultimately, NASA officials signed a waiver confirming that the bat was safe to fly with.

"The bat eventually became 'Interim Problem Report 119V-0080' after the ICE team finished their walkdown," the memo said. "Systems Engineering and Integration performed a debris analysis on him and ultimately a Launch Commit Criteria waiver to ICE-01 was written to accept the stowaway."

This isn't the first time a bat has attempted to travel into space. Another bat was seen clinging to the side of the external tank attached to the shuttle Endeavour on its STS-72 flight in 1996. That one maybe have been a bit more cautious, though: It flew away to safety right before launch.

Coincidentally, an astronaut aboard that flight, Koichi Wakata of Japan, also flew on Discovery this week, making him the first spaceflyer to share two rides with bats. Discovery's STS-119 mission is headed to the International Space Station to drop off the final segment of the lab's backbone truss and set of solar array panels.

NASA officials said a bat also set down on the external tank for the shuttle Columbia during its STS-90 mission in 1998. That bat also flitted away to safety during liftoff, they added.

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Parrotpaul
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Re: Bat hitches a ride on space shuttle

Post by Parrotpaul » Thu Mar 19, 2009 2:10 pm

It's Clinton's fault.
"I think I may say that of all the men we meet with, nine parts of ten are what they are, good or evil, useful or not, by their education." John Locke

RSM789
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Re: Bat hitches a ride on space shuttle

Post by RSM789 » Thu Mar 19, 2009 2:13 pm

Parrotpaul wrote:It's Clinton's fault.
Hillary may be an old bat, but that doesn't make this particular situation her or Bills fault.
"You might stop looking foolish if you didn't stop making a claim that no one believes matters." - Elroy El, 6/23/09

Red
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Re: Bat hitches a ride on space shuttle

Post by Red » Thu Mar 19, 2009 2:38 pm

crayegg wrote:From Space.com:

Batman, the famed poster frm the Oc Community mesage board, was spotted blasting off with the space shuttle Sunday and clinging to the back side of Discovery's external fuel tank apparently held on throughout the launch.

NASA hoped Batman would fly away before the spacecraft's Sunday evening liftoff, but photos from the launch now show Batman holding on for dear life throughout the fiery ride.

"He did change the direction he was pointing from time to time throughout countdown but ultimately never flew away," states a NASA memo obtained by SPACE.com. "Infrared imagery shows Batman was alive and not frozen like many would think ... Liftoff imagery analysis confirmed that he held on until at least the vehicle cleared [the] tower before we lost sight of him."

Officials at NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral, Fla., where Discovery launched from a seaside pad, said the Batman's outlook after launch appears grim.

"Based on images and video, The Nug, message board expert who provides support to the center said Batman was a free tail bat that likely had a broken left wing and some problem with its right shoulder or wrist," NASA officials said Tuesday. "Batman likely perished quickly during Discovery's climb into orbit."

Because the Kennedy Space Center is also home to Florida's Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge, NASA's launch pads are equipped with several countermeasures, including warning sirens, to ward off birds and other wildlife. NASA also relies on radar to make sure large flocks of birds won't be struck by the shuttle during liftoff.

But Batman on Discovery's tank did not budge, even after engine ignition.

Batman was perched between one quarter and one third of the way up on the north side of the fuel tank, which is the side that faces away from the orbiter. NASA estimated the surface temperature of the tank at that location was between 58 and 70 degrees Fahrenheit, even though the canister was filled with super-cold liquid hydrogen and liquid oxygen.

In the hours before Discovery's liftoff, NASA's Final Inspection Team (called the "ICE team") investigated whether the creature would pose a risk to the shuttle if its body impacted the orbiter's sensitive heat shield tiling. Ultimately, NASA officials signed a waiver confirming that the bat was safe to fly with.

"Batman eventually became 'Interim Problem Report 119V-0080' after the ICE team finished their walkdown," the memo said. "Systems Engineering and Integration performed a debris analysis on him and ultimately a Launch Commit Criteria waiver to ICE-01 was written to accept the stowaway."

This isn't the first time Batman has attempted to travel into space. Another bat was seen clinging to the side of the external tank attached to the shuttle Endeavour on its STS-72 flight in 1996. That one maybe have been a bit more cautious, though: It flew away to safety right before launch.

Coincidentally, an astronaut aboard that flight, Koichi Wakata of Japan, also flew on Discovery this week, making him the first spaceflyer to share two rides with bats. Discovery's STS-119 mission is headed to the International Space Station to drop off the final segment of the lab's backbone truss and set of solar array panels.

NASA officials said Batman also set down on the external tank for the shuttle Columbia during its STS-90 mission in 1998. Batman also flitted away to safety during liftoff, they added.
I have AN IMMENSE respect for the Batman.

crayegg
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Re: Bat hitches a ride on space shuttle

Post by crayegg » Thu Mar 19, 2009 3:02 pm

Pretty good, Red. :D

RSM789
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Re: Bat hitches a ride on space shuttle

Post by RSM789 » Thu Mar 19, 2009 7:32 pm

Okay, this is as close to a "Bat hitchiking on the space shuttle" story that I can get & since it happened just yesterday, it is fresh on my mind.

I was in a clients home yesterday programming a touchscreen remote with my laptop. The client was not there, so I was alone in the house with their Macaw, African Grey and about 4 other small birds, all taking turns screeching at the most inopportune time. I had my laptop on the table and was sitting on the couch when a small parakeet came waddling over (he has full time access in & out of his cage). He started to take a nibble on the power cord of my laptop & as fun as it would have been to see him light-up, I thought better of the situation & picked him up. He was very friendly & seemed to like sitting on my hand, but that made it very difficult to type. Behind the couch was a bird sitting thing, a large branchlike object with all kinds of stuff all over it. I put him on that & went back to work.

A few minutes later as I was focusing on what I was doing, all of a sudden Mr. Parakeet decided to hitch a ride on my back. It startled me & I jumped up, but that didn't change the birds objective. He was hanging on for dear life flapping his wings and was square in the middle of my back where I couldn't reach him. Like the space shuttle trying to dislodge the hitchhiker, I couldn't get the damn bird off my back. Finally, I went in the bathroom, took off my shirt (bird still attached) and put MY hitchiker back in his cage.

As I have always said, bird people are just a bit off...
"You might stop looking foolish if you didn't stop making a claim that no one believes matters." - Elroy El, 6/23/09

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