One small step for man, one… Holy crap! Is that a BAT?
Yes indeed. The first attempt by a new species to reach orbit, although the technique of hanging onto the space shuttle as it launches may be a bit too low tech.
Robert Pearlman at CollectSPACE writes
The legend of the Bat-ronaut
Discovery continues its approach to the space station for a planned
docking at 4:12 p.m. CDT, engineers on the ground have determined the
status of the small bat that stubbornly clung to the shuttle's external tank (ET) prior to, and — as it turns out — through launch.
shuttle engineering memo, obtained by collectSPACE, notes: "He did
change the direction he was pointing from time to time throughout
countdown but ultimately never flew away. IR imagery shows he was alive
and not frozen like many would think. The surface of the ET foam is
actually generally between 60-80 degrees F on a day like [Sunday]."
"Lift off imagery analysis confirmed that he held on until at least the vehicle cleared to tower before we lost sight of him."
"And thus is the legend of the STS-119 Bat-ronaut…"
What no one seems to know is that he really is just trying to hitch a ride home…