N. Wayne Hale, the deputy manager of the shuttle program after fielding questions about the Shuttle was asked about the fate of the bird that was struck by the shuttle's external tank during liftoff.
``We've never see a bird strike in the program before,'' Hale said.
The nose cone of the orange external tank struck the large bird just 2.5 seconds after launch. Luckily, Mr. Hale said, the bird slid off of the side of the tank opposite the shuttle and posed no hazard to the Discovery. He said that the incident was especially surprising because the shuttle program had always assumed that the roar of launching would scare birds away, but "this guy didn't clear the area."
Mr. Hale added that some NASA employees wondered what kind of bird it was and have searched for the remnants on the launch pad, but have found nothing. In the launching pictures, he said, "We pretty clearly see him going into the plume - and I don't know if we'll ever know." And he grimaced.
NASA also is studying whether anything can be done to prevent collisions with wildlife.(Reuters/New York Times)
What kind of bird was it? The New Scientist says it may have been an osprey or a turkey buzzard.