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We will not forget you, Space Bat


Eight years ago today, at a launch of the space shuttle Discovery, a little brown bat flew onto the shuttle’s fuel tank during countdown and hung on for all he was worth. Experts who analyzed the footage afterwards (bat experts, natch) think he had a broken wing and dislocated shoulder or wrist.

Wrist. On a bat. Flying mammals are confusing.

They thought surely he would drop off, but he didn’t. Periodically, he shifted position, but hung on for as long as the shuttle was in sight. He died quickly in the cold and airless upper atmosphere. Or incinerated. Probably. But what a sendoff!

Space Bat, you will live forever in our hearts.


Comment from Steamboat McGoo
Time: March 15, 2017, 10:00 pm

At last! Now I know how I really want to go!

Comment from Uncle Al
Time: March 15, 2017, 11:39 pm

@Steamboat, by golly that does look like a grand way to go! Unfortunately, it conflicts from my long-standing desire to be cremated and have my ashes formed into a 1939 Cadillac LaSalle Coupe hood ornament.

Dang. Decisions, decisions.

Comment from Drew458
Time: March 16, 2017, 12:35 am

That’s not a hood ornament, that’s a weapon. With a launch rack. Streamline moderne, but still a weapon.

Comment from Uncle Al
Time: March 16, 2017, 2:31 am

And why, pray tell, can it not be both a hood ornament and a weapon at the same time? Seems to me that’s a win-win!

Comment from Ric Fan
Time: March 16, 2017, 2:35 am

I hate the idea of an autopsy, embalming, funerals, etc. I use to think the best way to go was to be blown up in smithereens. Problem is that there is still going to be bits and pieces of you all over the place. I also thought jumping into a volcano might be an option. Problem with that is that before you get close enough the gases and heat will cause you to pass out. So, just wrap me up in a sheet wearing the clothes I died in and put me in the ground immediately.

Comment from tomfrompv
Time: March 16, 2017, 2:39 am

Was it God’s wry humor at work? Maybe this was a metaphor — humans hanging on to technological advances to save the day will instead be incinerated and suffocated by their own efforts?

I feel like that bat a lot. My wrist is metaphorically broken from writing too many checks and I’m hanging onto starship Trump — which may well turn out to be the worst thing I could be doing. But like the bat, I’m not letting go.

God has a sense of humor.

Comment from Some William S. Burroughs fan
Time: March 16, 2017, 2:59 am

Uncle Al, That picture seems more Steely Dan than Hood Ornament or Weapon, although I suppose I must grant you that it could serve as all three.

Comment from Veeshir
Time: March 16, 2017, 4:22 am

I’ve long wanted to be cremated, now I know how. Re-entry!

Comment from Brother Cavil, dolphin brain in a jar
Time: March 16, 2017, 2:29 pm

After dealing with dad’s final arrangements at the end of last year, I’ve become very fond of the idea of a Viking funeral for myself.

Comment from Ric Fan
Time: March 16, 2017, 2:46 pm

I would think the burning boat would sink before the body is entirely cremated so, again, you may have a problem. Saw an article a few months ago about burials at sea in the channel. Some of the bodies were washing ashore. How did Hunter Thompson’s shooting his ashes out of a canyon work out? Sounds messy.

Comment from Brother Cavil, dolphin brain in a jar
Time: March 16, 2017, 7:39 pm

Presumably if you do it right the pyre is finishing the body before the boat is to that point. If you light the boat itself at the start I suspect you’re doing it wrong.

Comment from Steamboat McGoo
Time: March 17, 2017, 1:59 am

Ric Fan – I’ve felt the same way about being blown to smithereens – what the hell is a smithereen, anyway? – because by the time the intense pain of the blowing up gets to your brain, your brain simply isn’t there anymore!

… I wonder if anyone collects smithereens? Would that be something a wealthy English Gentleman does to pass the time?

And what are the units of measure? I mean, is one smithereen equal to – say – 3 crumbs?

Comment from J.S.Bridges
Time: March 17, 2017, 2:40 am

I may be wrong, of course, but…My prior understanding has been that “smithereens” are somewhat-smaller and generally a bit lumpier-like than “flinders” – which are, themselves, somewhat-smaller and p’raps rather-more irregular than “shreds” – which are what one may usually expect the output from a “shredder” to be…

Hope that helps to somewhat-clarify matters.

Comment from MikeW
Time: March 17, 2017, 1:26 pm

Ha, hadn’t heard of Space Bat before. I do recall the tale of his little buddy, Space Frog. He made his World Début during a launch at Wallops Island, Virginia.


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