Sunday, March 15, 2009

The Tragedy of STS-119

After a day's delay, the Space Shuttle Discovery (STS-119) performed a nearly flawless launch. In fact some considered it one of the best launches in a very long time. After a beautiful dusk launch
, NASA reports all is going well. It was a total success.


What they won't report is the fact there was one fatality on this flight. This is the tragedy of STS-119, a tragedy that is compounded by the fact that NASA is now engaged in a cover-up. I am talking about the death of the bravest member of the crew, Flippy-Flap the Bat. Yes, there was a bat that had landed on the side of the external fuel tank and was 'sleeping'. was right on when it reported the bat was attempting to stowaway aboard the Shuttle.

Flippy-Flap had a dream of going into space. Flippy was known to spend his nights, not only catching moths, but looking to the stars. A prolific and avid twitterer he shared his desire and dream. Flippy truly believed space was the destiny of bats, after all, he was a flying mammal. Flippy heard of the upcoming launch of Discovery and knew this was his opportunity. He had one problem, in that he had miscalculated his flight and was bound to miss the launch. But, for his good fortune, the launch was scrubbed on the 14th and rescheduled for the 15th. With joyous abandon, he flew to the huge external fuel tank, and waited for his chance to sneak aboard. People had laughed that the bat had mistaken the fuel tank for either a very large female bat or a extremely large moth. The fools, they had no idea that the soul of Flippy-Flap was bound for space.

He made one more mistake, and that is he fell asleep attached to the side of the external fuel tank. He missed his opportunity to enter the crew area, but instead of flying off, he stayed attached, the dream was so real and strong that nothing was going to the stars. His goal, his dream, to be the first bat into space was soon to be the reality.

So the countdown proceeded on the 15th; people speculated the fate of "the bat" would be either, it would wake up as the shuttle prepared for lift off and fly away, hopefully fast enough to escape the blast. Or, it would be turned into BBQ bat. NASA agreed the bat posed no threat to the integrity of the Shuttle. But why would Flippy, he was to be a part of the crew. He was not a terrorist as some were calling him, people such as Rush Limbaugh or Dr. James Dobson, he was a bat who looked to the moon and wanted to be there, his was not going to sabotauge but be with them.

What actually happened to Flippy-Flap is now part of speculation and myth, he would never leave the Shuttle. There is one photograph that shows this fuzzy object clinging to the side, holding on for all its strength. Flippy was not going to give up.

Likely what happened, Flippy stayed with the shuttle until the fuel storage cell was ejected from the Shuttle. While tragic, he was able to experience his dream of flight and leaving the Earth. He died but he gained his goal, the first bat in space.

And so, to those who paid the ultimate price to achieve the goal of reaching the stars, we add a new Hero, Flippy-Flap the Bat.

To his memory let me quote the wonderful poem High Flight

Oh! I have slipped the surly bonds of Earth
And danced the skies on laughter-silvered wings;
Sunward I've climbed, and joined the tumbling mirth
Of sun-split clouds, — and done a hundred things
You have not dreamed of — wheeled and soared and swung
High in the sunlit silence. Hov'ring there,
I've chased the shouting wind along, and flung
My eager craft 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 hand, and touched the face of God.

— John Gillespie Magee, Jr

Godspeed Flippy Flap

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