Under-the-Influence Astronauts Add to NASA's Woes

July 27, 2007 11:23 AM
by findingDulcinea Staff
Boozing spacemen join a female astronaut accused of attempted kidnapping, a sabotaged computer and $94 million of missing equipment in the agency’s lengthening list of troubles.

30-Second Summary

Two astronauts were allowed to fly less than 12 hours after drinking alcohol, a NASA panel has revealed.

The panel’s report states that “astronauts had been so intoxicated prior to flight that surgeons and/or fellow astronauts raised concern,” but those warnings went unheeded.

The discovery that crew members may have been under the influence at take-off in separate incidents was made during an investigation into the health and behavior of NASA personnel. The inquiry followed an incident in February this year in which astronaut Lisa Nowak assaulted a female colleague with pepper spray.

Nowak’s arrest raised questions about how her apparent mental instability escaped the notice of flight surgeons.

The latest report will do little to improve the space administration’s image, especially in the light of other revelations this week.

On July 25, congressional findings showed that NASA is missing $94 million in equipment.

In addition, a computer intended for installation on the International Space Station was sabotaged by a worker at a subcontractor.

Investigators looking into the Columbia Space Shuttle disaster in 2003 concluded that the agency’s managerial culture was a contributory factor in that accident. The implication of the more recent stories is that NASA is still troubled by a lack of oversight.

Headline Links: Boozing crew members and multimillion-dollar losses

Reactions: Russians reject NASA's report

Background: Nowak, Columbia, and the astronaut's life

Opinion: NASA's management culture

Reference Material: The astronaut health review

Related Links: NASA's Future


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