I finally found the full text of this!
This brave little bat has multiple video tributes on youtube (this one's my favourite, even though there's probably better ones, it's the one that's stuck with me), at least one song written specifically for them, a website, fanart, posts every year saying that we have not forgotten them, and multiple news articles about them (the one I first read, waybackwhen, was titled 'Shuttle-Riding Bat Dies The Most Glorious Death Imaginable').
I'm certain you can do something with this. -- RecklessPrudence
They thought it had died. And it was a reasonable assumption to make, after all. Small, organic beings without any kind of shielding do not ordinarily survive clinging to the hull of a vessel headed for the edge of the atmosphere.
If it made it into orbit, its remains should have been freeze-dried before its orbit decayed and the sad scrap burned up on re-entry. But that's not what happened.
Bael Trenor, sun farmer of Tsiolkovski City, found what she assumed to be a geode on the moon. And since she was on her way back from cleaning the solar panels of her farm, she picked it up and took it home.
It was not a geode. Well, not like one would traditionally think of as a geode.
It was a carbon cocoon wrapped around a block of ice that encapsulated... a perfectly preserved Terran bat. Bael turned the intact miracle over to her second wife, Klare. She was the house Medik and found herself in need of a hobby project. Bael half expected the bat to be examined, catalogued, and mounted in the household museum.
What she had not expected was intensive care.
The bat had frozen in the hoarfrost build-up surrounding the engines of an ancient shuttle. Before the invention of the Specific Gravity Drive. And in freezing, it had entered a form of hibernation. Then carbon from the launch and the polluted atmosphere had formed a protective layer that prevented the ice from evaporating in vacuum.
And, after decades of slingshots around assorted vessels and objects, it had landed gently on the dark side of the moon. Waiting for Bael to find it.
Klare jokingly named the bat Buck Rogers and lovingly nursed the little critter back to life.
And then it turned out that Buck was not only a girl, but had taken her space trip whilst pregnant. Her species had been teetering on the brink of extinction for some years on Earth, but on the moon? Especially in Tsiolkovski Colony... they were welcomed into the general biota.
Bugs used to be a problem in low-grav zones. No longer. Not with Buck and her descendants on the task. It only took two more decades for the lunar colonies to begin exporting bats back to Earth.
Of course, Buck's entire species got renamed in her honour. Chiroptis Buckrodgeri, saved from extinction by a flight of fancy...