This is astonishing.
According to an article in Aviation Week, on at least two occasions astronauts who were intoxicated — drunk — were allowed to fly
on the Space Shuttle [As pointed out in the comments below, the AW article never specifically says they flew on the Shuttle, just that they flew. Many astronauts train in planes, for example, so I jumped to a conclusion myself! I feel it’s somewhat mitigated by knowing that lots of other folks did too. However the article does go on to say that some astronauts were intoxicated within 12 hours of launch, which is against the rules.]
A panel reviewing astronaut health issues in the wake of the Lisa Nowak arrest has found that on at least two occasions astronauts were allowed to fly after flight surgeons and other astronauts warned they were so intoxicated that they posed a flight-safety risk.
The panel, also reported “heavy use of alcohol” by astronauts before launch, within the standard 12-hour “bottle to throttle” rule applied to NASA flight crew members.
I am at a loss for words. I mean, seriously. I know a few astronauts, and I would swear up and down that the last thing they would ever do is drink before a flight. It’s hard to believe anything like this could happen, but the panel — composed of "military and civilian government physicians, psychologists, lawyers, safety experts and astronauts under the chairmanship of U.S. Air Force Col. Richard Bachmann, dean of the Air Force School of Aerospace Medicine" — found otherwise.
All I have to go on here is this article in Aviation Week. To be fair, AW generally gets good inside info, though they have been known to stumble here and again. Given the nature of this story, and only having one source, I wasn’t sure whether to publicize it or not. So I want to be clear that it is way too early to speculate here about fault, veracity, or anything else. But this is really, really important news, and needs to be aired out. It may be a few weeks before we hear more, however.
And please folks: try to keep the conclusion-jumping to a minimum in the comments.
Update: FWIW, USA Today is also reporting on this, but they only have the AW article as a source as well. They do say that the report from the panel will be released Friday at noon. Interestingly, NASA is holding a press conference at noon (Eastern) Friday about astronaut health issues.
Update 2: The Huffington Post has some more info.
Criminy, more from NASA: Now what?
Posted at 3:02 pm in NASA
When it rains, it pours:
On the main CNN.com webpage is a banner saying "[Breaking News] NASA says it has found wires which may have been deliberately cut on computers bound for the international space station."
And that’s it. No listing of source, no info, just that.
More when I find out more. Sigh.
Hat tip to Doodler at the BAUT Forum.
NASA finds apparent sabotage of computers for ISS
This is the most bizarre news day for NASA ever.
CNN is reporting that NASA has found cut wires on computers slated to go onboard the International Space Station, and it may be sabotage.
The U.S. space agency NASA on Thursday confirmed it had discovered the apparent sabotage of a noncritical component of the international space station due to be carried up by the space shuttle Endeavour. It launched an investigation after finding cut wires in a piece of computer equipment intended to transfer data from station sensors to the ground, the agency said.
Yikes. Bizarrely, the rest of the CNN article says nothing more about this, and instead just gives mundane facts about the next Endeavour mission.
However, at the top of the CNN article is this:
- NASA reports apparent sabotage after computer found with wires cut
- Computer supposed to be sent to the international space station in two weeks
- NASA hopes to repair computer in time for August 7 launch
And I think I am stunned by NASA once again. They plan on launching those computer parts anyway? In just two weeks?
Does anyone else think this is nuts? Sure, the parts are "non-critical", but if this is sabotage, then maybe, just maybe, there might be other things that were sabotaged as well. I’m sure is investigating this, though it’s not apparent in that perversely short and uninformative article. But it’s hard to understand how this could be "apparent sabotage" on any scale and have NASA still want to go ahead with the mission. At the very least, isn’t this a Federal issue, and wouldn’t the FBI in there? I would expect the government might want to ground the Shuttle fleet pending an investigation.
Sigh. We have almost no info, so I won’t speculate any more. But obviously there is a a lot more going on here than we’re hearing.
Criminy. What day.
Update: BABlogge JR Keller commented that Yahoo has much more info. This was a lone act, and the contractor that employed the saboteur notified NASA over a week ago. Bill Gerstenmaier, NASA’s space operations chief, said "”The damage is very obvious. It’s easy to detect. It’s not a mystery to us… I don’t want to speculate on motivation… There’s an active investigation going on and I’d rather let that get handled that way… There’s no concern about anything that’s on orbit." So there was quite a bit more to know, and it wasn’t in the CNN article. NASA obviously feels comfortable that this was a contained event, and feels safe to launch the Shuttle.
NASA trifecta now complete
I can’t comment on this. I just can’t.