We have had a couple of blogs here about the bat that went up with the recent launch of Space Shuttle Discovery. Dubbed Brian the Bat by the media, he was unable to fly away most likely due to a broken wing and became the first bat in space.
Now Universe Today is reporting that NASA could be held criminally negligent in the death of Brian. "According to state animal protection law, NASA may be charged with negligence, after making little effort to prevent "animal interaction" with the launchpad and apparent unwillingness to remove Brian by hand before launch."
NASA is taking precautions and developing a new mesh system that will be draped around the external rockets after a final inspection to prevent bats and other wildlife from interacting with rockets during future launches. It probably won't be ready for the remaining shuttle missions, but will be used with the Ares Rockets. Initial cost estimates are $10 million for this system.
The scandal appears to be widening as it is now coming to light that this is not the first animal to perish in a shuttle launch.
"…of course animals die during launches. We've had collisions with eagles during ascent, we've even found dead rats, mice and gophers left on the pad, there has also been injuries to some larger animals in the past. As the Cape is surrounded by water, it is hard to prevent alligators straying too close [...] shuttle exhaust can hurt these reptiles, making them difficult to treat. It also seems the flash from the boosters cause confusion in some animals, including rabbits, actually attracting them to the launch pad at lift off. That always ends very badly." — Aniline Lo, NASA Safety Officer"
*Note to exceptionally stupid people who have already forwarded this to all their email contacts along with a personal invective about those stupid liberal tree-hugging PETA members who are out to destroy our country and let the terrorists win, look at the frakkin' calendar and slap yourself silly over the fact that your email program does not have an unsend feature.