Thursday, March 19, 2009
After many delays, Discovery was launched and is now at the ISS, working construction tasks to move the station toward a six-person crew capability. The biggest task is adding a 16-ton girder to the station's main truss. The mission had a bizarre start when a bat, apparently injured, clung tight to the insulation of the external tank and would not be shooed away. NASA safety officials ruled it was safe to launch with the bat in place, and off the shuttle went. As it cleared the tower, the bat, despite all the buffeting and noise, was still there. Presumably, the uninvited passenger was shaken off (or roasted) and "ditched" involuntarily in the ocean at some point. It still probably set some kind of record for highest speed attained by a bat.