Shuttle-Riding Bat Dies The Most Glorious Death Imaginable

Illustration for article titled Shuttle-Riding Bat Dies The Most Glorious Death Imaginable

On a cool spring eve, March 15th, 2009, a bat, crippled and wistful, clung to the Space Shuttle Discovery as it was thrust toward the great beyond. Goodbye and godspeed, my magnificent Spacebat.


At some point during the countdown, Spacebat—a Free-Tailed Chiroptera—was spotted latched to the foam of the external fuel tank, occasionally moving but never letting go. Wildlife experts deduced that he had injured his wing and shoulder, leaving him with little chance of survival. He remained on the tank until launch. NASA's cold report?

The animal likely perished quickly during Discovery's climb into orbit.

True! But here's how it should have read:

Bereft of his ability to fly and with nowhere to go, a courageous bat climbed aboard our Discovery with stars in his weak little eyes. The launch commenced, and Spacebat trembled as his frail mammalian body was gently pushed skyward. For the last time, he felt the primal joy of flight; for the first, the indescribable feeling of ascending toward his dream—a place far away from piercing screeches and crowded caves, stretching forever into fathomless blackness.

Whether he was consumed in the exhaust flames or frozen solid in the stratosphere is of no concern. We know that Spacebat died, but his dream will live on in all of us.


There you go, NASA. Spacebat's majestic final moment is pictured below. [NASA via Fark]

Illustration for article titled Shuttle-Riding Bat Dies The Most Glorious Death Imaginable

Share This Story

Get our newsletter


John H Reiher Jr

Oh! I have slipped the surly bonds of Earth

And danced the skies on leather-skinned wings;

Moonward I've climbed, and joined the tumbling mirth

Of moon-split clouds, - and done a hundred things

You have not dreamed of - wheeled and soared and swung

High in the moonlit silence. Hov'ring there,

I've chased the shouting wind along, and flung

My eager wings through footless halls of air. . . .

Up, up the long, delirious burning blue

I've topped the wind-swept heights with easy grace

Where never lark, or ever eagle flew -

And, while with silent, lifting mind I've trod

The high untrespassed sanctity of space,

Put out my wing, and touched the face of God.