Buzz The Bat
STS 119 Space Shuttle Discovery was being prepared for launch on the 15th, March, 2009, from Pad 39A at Kennedy Space Centre on the Florida coast.
The mission parameters were to deliver and assemble the fourth starboard Integrated Truss Segment, and the fourth set of solar arrays to the International Space Station. Seven crew members were officially assigned by NASA to the mission, but one unofficial yet no less inspired crew member was also present at the time of launch...
A small Free Tail Bat had decided to cling to the external fuel tank of Space Shuttle Discovery whilst it sat on Launch Pad 39A. According to Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge specialists, Buzz the bat had suffered from a broken left wing and problems with its right shoulder. Injuries that potentially left the bat unable to achieve flight on its own. It seems that this flightless bat had decided to equip itself with the worlds most powerful engines. Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge coexists inside Kennedy Space Center, and although they are accustomed to dealing with the local wildlife, this particular bat seemed quite committed to its launch agenda.
At 19:43 EDT on March 15th, the main engines of Space Shuttle Discovery ignited with over 17 million pounds of thrust as the mammoth space vehicle commenced its mission directed squarely at the heavens. Experts had forecasted that Buzz would release his grip on the external tank once the explosive vibrations of the ignition sequence had taken effect. However Buzz remained in his launch position, and committed to his mission.
With NASA cameras trained on him during the launch, Buzz was last sighted (circled area) clinging to space shuttle Discovery’s external fuel tank as it cleared the tower, and accelerated away from the surface of the Earth, according to analysts at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center.
Our Sierra Hotel Aeronautics award of excellence has been posthumously awarded to "Buzz the Bat" for his dedication and perseverance to his lofty mission. No-one can say exactly what became of Buzz the Bat and Discovery as they rocketed away together towards their geocentric orbit, but there is no question that on that day, March 15th, 2009, at 19:43 EDT, Buzz became the fastest, and highest flying bat the world has ever seen...
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