When NASA launched its shuttle Discovery on Sunday night, it didn't go alone into space.
A small bat that was spotted blasting off with the space shuttle Sunday and clinging to the back side of Discovery's external fuel tank apparently held on tightly throughout the entire launch.
NASA hoped the bat would fly away before the spacecraft's Sunday evening liftoff, but photos from the launch now show the bat held on for dear life throughout the intense blastoff.
He did change the direction he was pointing from time to time throughout countdown but ultimately never flew away, states a NASA memo obtained by SPACE.com.
Infrared imagery shows he was alive and not frozen like many would think ... Liftoff imagery analysis confirmed that he held on until at least the vehicle cleared [the] tower before we lost sight of him.
Officials at NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral, Fla., where Discovery launched from a seaside pad, said the bat's outlook after launch appears grim.
Based on images and video, a wildlife expert who provides support to the center said the small creature was a free tail bat that likely had a broken left wing and some problem with its right shoulder or wrist, NASA officials said Tuesday. The animal likely perished quickly during Discovery's climb into orbit.
The bat was perched between one quarter and one third of the way up on the north side of the fuel tank, which is the side that faces away from the orbiter.