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Nickdfresh
07-27-2007, 06:00 AM
Drunk astronauts go from Right Stuff to the hard stuff
* Richard Luscombe in Miami
* The Guardian (http://www.guardian.co.uk/science/2007/jul/27/spaceexploration.internationalnews)
* Friday July 27 2007

America's space programme suffered unexpected turbulence yesterday when a revelation that astronauts were allowed to fly on the shuttle while drunk was followed by news of sabotage to the cargo of a forthcoming mission.

Nasa officials are expected to confirm today that there have been at least two occasions when crew members were so intoxicated before their launch that they were deemed a flight safety risk.

Meanwhile, engineers checking the shuttle Endeavour, which is on the launchpad at Florida's Cape Canaveral space centre ahead of its scheduled lift-off to the international space station on August 7, found electrical wires on a computerised monitoring device had been cut.

Nasa launched an inquiry into the damage, believed to have been caused by an agency subcontractor, but stressed that it posed no danger to the shuttle or its astronauts. The device, which measures physical stresses on the International Space Station's external arms, "will be repaired and it will fly on this flight", Nasa's associate administrator, Bill Gerstenmaier, said.

The drinking claims come in a report commissioned by the space agency to investigate the behaviour of its astronauts in the wake of the arrest of shuttle crew member Lisa Nowak in February for allegedly stalking and attacking a love rival.

The panel discovered "heavy use of alcohol" by unspecified astronauts in the 12-hour period before a shuttle launch, according to Aviation Week and Space Technology magazine, which says it obtained an advance copy of the report.

The agency's "bottle-to-throttle" rule prohibits any Nasa employee from drinking alcohol in the hours before a lift-off, yet at least two astronauts were apparently allowed to fly despite warnings from flight surgeons and colleagues that they were too intoxicated.

A Nasa spokesman refused to confirm the details of the report, which would be discussed at a press conference at the agency's HQ in Washington today.

The allegations come five months after Nasa suffered the embarrassment of the arrest of Ms Nowak, who allegedly drove non-stop from Texas to Florida wearing nappies to confront the new girlfriend of a fellow astronaut she had been seeing.

Ms Nowak, who flew a mission aboard the shuttle Discovery last July, and Bill Oefelein, the pilot of the same orbiter during a subsequent mission in December, have both since been sacked by Nasa.

In February, a panel of civilian and military doctors, psychologists, safety experts and astronauts, began "a review of health services available to astronauts".

A parallel assessment at Houston's Johnson Space Centre, where astronauts live and train, of "behavioural medicine practices for astronauts" took place under the chairmanship of Richard Bachmann, a US air force colonel.

Nasa's deputy administrator, Shana Dale, said at the time that the intention was "to determine whether there were any areas of concern, any leading indicators we might have picked up on, based on Lisa Nowak's dealings with other astronauts or Nasa employees".

Ms Nowak is due to stand trial in September on charges of kidnapping and assault.

The miserable day for Nasa was rounded off last night when a veteran worker at the Kennedy Space Centre pleaded guilty in court to stealing $150,000 (75,000) of agency money. Elizabeth Osborne, 52, who had worked at Cape Canaveral for more than 30 years, faces up to 10 years in jail.

Nickdfresh
07-27-2007, 06:00 AM
I'd be drunk too if I had to fly an aging Shuttle...:)

Panzerknacker
07-27-2007, 08:15 AM
I think is this case the recomendations "avoid to handle heavy machinery" suit for this Nasa guy. :D

Rising Sun*
07-27-2007, 08:53 AM
I'd be drunk too if I had to fly an aging Shuttle...:)

Mate, I'd need to be paralytic to fly in a new one. :D

Now, for the scientists among us, would a hangover be better or worse in a spacecraft with all that oxygen and whatever else they use for an atmosphere?

Also, for those of us who have experience of hangovers in various places we don't remember visiting but nonetheless woke up in, would you rather wake up in a park / gutter / wrecked car / bed of a shelia you don't much remember from the night before but courteously give her a conscious one before leaving anyway/ [I'm just using personal experience for these hangovers - feel free to add yours] OR wake up in a tin can far above the world, with no prospect of getting back any time soon?

I'd rather stick to earthly hangovers.


Space Oddity

David Bowie


Ground Control to Major Tom
Ground Control to Major Tom
Take your protein pills and put your helmet on

Ground Control to Major Tom
Commencing countdown, engines on
Check ignition and may God's love be with you

Ten, Nine, Eight, Seven, Six, Five,
Four, Three, Two, One, Liftoff

This is Ground Control to Major Tom
You've really made the grade
And the papers want to know whose shirts you wear
Now it's time to leave the capsule if you dare

This is Major Tom to Ground Control
I'm stepping through the door
And I'm floating in a most peculiar way
And the stars look very different today

For here
Am I sitting in a tin can
Far above the world
Planet Earth is blue
And there's nothing I can do

Though I'm past one hundred thousand miles
I'm feeling very still
And I think my spaceship knows which way to go
Tell my wife I love her very much... she knows

Ground Control to Major Tom
Your circuit's dead, there's something wrong
Can you hear me, Major Tom?
Can you hear me, Major Tom?
Can you hear me, Major Tom?
Can you....

Here am I floating round my tin can
Far above the moon
Planet Earth is blue
And there's nothing I can do.

RifleMan20
07-27-2007, 03:31 PM
man i figured this out a long time ago....the simpsons had an episode about that was about.........5years ago i think

1000ydstare
07-28-2007, 12:54 AM
I would imagine with the extra oxygen it would make hangovers more endurable.

We used to take a few gasps of o2 in the morning to clear heads after a night on the tiles.

Likewise, howmuch flying does an astronaut do? The first part (launch an orbit) is pretty much all auto pilot.