Archive for the 'Space Shuttle' Category


Astronauts: First drunk, now mentally unstable?

Given the frequency with which astronauts are being found to be in substandard mental condition lately, I am beginning to think we spend more money in the technology of space flight than we do in the well being of the astronauts in whom we entrust our billion dollar technological equipment:

Former astronaut Lisa Nowak is pursuing a temporary insanity defense on charges that she assaulted and tried to kidnap a romantic rival, according to a court document released Tuesday.

Nowak suffered from major depression, obsessive-compulsive disorder, insomnia and “brief psychotic disorder with marked stressors,” defense attorney Donald Lykkebak wrote. He said the already-petite woman had also recently lost 15 percent of her body weight and struggled with “marital separation.”

“This notice does not challenge competence to stand trial, but only raises insanity at the time of the offense,” he wrote. – [Yahoo/AP]

You know, I realize that astronauts are human beings, and have their ups and downs. I have no problem with them having a drink, or a mental breakdown, whatever. They’re human. Where I have a problem is that it seems like the people who administer our illustrious space program doesn’t seem to have the safety of the astronauts, or even the welfare of the equipment, at heart.

How can you let a person whose blood alcohol levels were so high they would not be allowed to operate a common motor vehicle, operate a multi billion dollar spacecraft? How do you let someone who is in the throes of a depression, and clearly mentally unstable, even remain an active member of the space program? I mean aren’t there periodical mental and physical evaluations done? How do these people pass?

Ex-astronaut planning insanity defense – [Yahoo/AP]


Please step out of the shuttle and walk the vapor trail Sir…

It would appear that there may have been cases were we had astronauts piloting space missions with blood alcohol levels in excess of the legal limit…

At least twice, astronauts were allowed to fly after flight surgeons and other astronauts warned they were so drunk they posed a flight-safety risk, an aviation weekly reported Thursday, citing a special panel studying astronaut health. – [Yahoo/AP]

Considering the rather obscene cost of the equipment that our tax precious dollars have been spent constructing, I would have thought that there would be at least as much emphasis placed on an astronauts drinking habits, as there are on the average American Joe Shmoe that gets pulled over for driving under the influence of “one too many”.

The article points out that it hasn’t actually been proved that they actually flew with over the limit BACs, but given the circumstances, I will honestly admit to being very suspicious if guess these guys are not found to have been “piloting under the influence”. They may get off with little more than a slap on the wrist either way. I dunno if legislation even exists that covers DUI in space…

07/28/2007 – UPDATE :
So apparently the study did in fact find that on at least two occasions, astronauts had been allowed to pilot spacecraft while under the influence… Oddly, the article fails to state what penalties will be assessed, or even if there will be any… I guess we shall have to wait and see won’t we…

Report: Astronauts drank before launch – [Yahoo/AP]

Study finds drunk astronauts allowed to fly? – [Yahoo/Reuters]

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