Now this is a NASA scandal that I never saw coming. Apparently twice in the past, shuttle astronauts were permitted to fly, even though they had levels of alcohol in their system so high they posed a risk to the shuttle mission. What?!
Aviation Week is reporting that an independent 8-person panel was convened to study astronaut health after the arrest of former astronaut Lisa Nowak (I’m sure you remember this little incident). As part of their research, the panelists interviewed shuttle flight surgeons, and these details came to light. NASA is keeping the revelations, tight-lipped, but they have a press conference on Friday to discuss it further.
NASA will also release the fully document on Friday, which contains the findings of both the outside committee, as well as an internal panel. This external panel included Air Force experts in aerospace medicine and clinical psychiatry.
I suppose I can understand how astronauts might want to have a celebration with their friends and family before heading up into space. But considering the sacrifices they’ve already made to get to this point in their careers, and the stakes involved for any kind of failure on the mission, I’m amazed anyone drinks a sip of alcohol months before their scheduled flight. I’m also amazed that flight surgeons would permit astronauts to fly while intoxicated. I can just imagine the pressure they’re under to certify astronauts for flight.
Anyway, I suppose we’ll just to wait for the final report to see all the details. I’ll keep you posted.
Original Source: Aviation Week