Bad News: Brian the Discovery Bat Was a Heavy Sleeper

Warning: You are about to read news of an upsetting nature. Brian didn’t make it, he was more of a thrill seeker than we gave him credit for…

Brian the Discovery Bat holds onto the external tank moments before launch (NASA/Damaris B. Sarria)
Brian the Discovery Bat holds onto the external tank moments before launch (NASA/Damaris B. Sarria)

If you have been following the news about the bat that caused a stir during Sunday’s Space Shuttle Discovery launch, we finally have closure on what actually happened. It is a sad day, Brian the Bat clung on to the shuttle’s exterior tank until lift-off…

When I first covered this news on Sunday, I wanted to make it more humorous than sad. Unfortunately, we are talking about an innocent fruit bat that picked the wrong tree (i.e. the shuttle) to roost on, so my reporting turned somewhat morose. We all know there is often a price to pay for scientific/technological endeavour, but when we are talking about the incineration of a little winged creature who happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time, the humour ebbs away somewhat (and I suppose it doesn’t help when some fool gives him a name, sorry about that).

Looking at a series of photos from a shuttle scientist (and aspiring astronaut) on her blog this morning (a huge thank you goes to Geir Barstein via Twitter), it becomes abundantly clear how the story of Brian the Bat ended.

It’s traumatic.

Damaris Sarria talks about her monitoring of Brian right up to lift-off:

We were hoping the bat would fly away at some point throughout the countdown, however it never flew away. Infrared imagery shows the bat was alive and not frozen (the surface of the ET foam was between 58-70 degrees F where the bat was located). Liftoff imagery analysis confirmed that the bat held on until the vehicle cleared the tower before it became out of sight. — Damaris Sarria, How I Am Becoming An Astronaut

It turns out Brian was not frozen to the external tank, and he did not fly away, he clung onto the rocket until it started its journey into space. I wonder how long he held on for

Special thank you to @Barstein for looking out for Brian and to Damaris B. Sarria for the sad news. Also, check out @DiscoveryBat, Brian is somehow still twittering from the vacuum of space (or from the carbon on the launchpad).

12 thoughts on “Bad News: Brian the Discovery Bat Was a Heavy Sleeper”

  1. This is Ground Control to Brian Bat
    You’ve really chosen bad
    And the websites want to know just why you’re there
    Now it’s time to leave the fuel tank if you dare

    This is Brian Bat to Ground Control
    I’m getting ready to soar
    And I’m flying in a most peculiar way
    And the stars look very different today

    For here
    Am I gripping insulation
    Far above the world
    Planet Earth is blue
    And there’s nothing I can do…

    [guitar solo] clap-clap

    Godspeed, Brian Bat. I have to say that he probably went out with the best view any bat has ever had…sorta.

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