This Friday, March 15th, we will be coming upon an unusual anniversary. It will have been four years since a member of the order Chiroptera attempted non-sanctioned space flight.

Free-tailed bats, or Molossidae, also called "mastiff bats", are found on every continent except for Antarctica. They're called "free-tailed" because their tails project beyond the membrane that connects the base of their tail to their hind legs.

This particular Molossidae was clinging to the side of the space shuttle stack for STS-119, which was a mission to the International Space Station to deliver and assemble Integrated Truss Segment S6 and a set of solar arrays and batteries.



The bat was observed during the countdown, resting on the external tank. It was assumed that the bat would fly off during the launch, but this turned out not to be the case. An expert on bats viewed the pictures of Space Bat, and hypothesized that the animal had a broken wing, which prevented it from making an escape. This could indeed be true. In fact, it is likely that Space Bat was eventually shaken off the tank and incinerated.

But I like to believe that Space Bat made it all the way, in one small cling for Space Bat, one giant flight for Bat-Kind.