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back to article NASA's drunken astronaut report released

Poor NASA. They've truly suffered through a woebegone week of bad news. First, the space agency was slammed for losing $94m worth of equipment. Then a space station computer was sabotaged by a subcontracting company. Finally, an internal investigation has found that some astronauts were dangerously drunk during takeoff. Last …

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History

Astronauts, test pilots, and Military Pilots (most notoriously fighter pilots) are famous (or infamous) for this. This isn't that shocking.

Ever read or watch the movie "The Right Stuff", remember (if you are an American, if you are a Brit you can look it up) the infamous Tailhook Convention, or descriptions of famous military pilots and aces.

This is surprising given that NASA is Civilian but, most Astronauts are from Military backgrounds. Besides those systems are almost entirely out of the Astronauts hands, so even inebriated they can't screw it up. Alas they should probably just sober up and pray this blows over quickly and quietly (or hangover like Tailhook did for the US Navy Aviation).

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Anonymous Coward

Who cares?

Let them have their booze. I know I certainly wouldn't strap myself to a rocket unless I was tanked. Besides getting smashed (and leaving smashed/hungover) has always been a tradition for explorers; just because they work for NASA shouldn't change that.

Plus if we don't let NASA astronauts drink our space program will certainly be surpassed by the alcohol fueled Russians and we can't have that.

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Anonymous Coward

To boldly drink?

"But before we even get to that can of worms, have the interviews been verified?"

No. It only seems to be the media that believes the reports have been verified. And the general public of course.

If true, one of the astronauts was flying a T-38 training jet, and the other was aboard a Soyuz vehicle en route to the ISS.

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Hey, Just Trying To Keep Up With The Russians! Stoli Salute!

Everyone knows that Russian StoliNauts drink vodka instead of water.

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Anonymous Coward

Title

"The medical certification of astronauts for flight duty is not structured to detect such episodes, nor is any medical surveillance program by itself likely to detect them or change the pattern of alcohol use," the panel wrote.""

Have they ever heard of a BAC??? Government does it all the time in Montana, USA. Blow into this, my boy...oh, can you walk the line? NO? DUI & take your license to drive/fly away. Not brain surgery.

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at last commentor: Title

It's obviously not rocket science either...

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Anonymous Coward

wh

now this is me speaking like a true noob without RTFA, but one would imagine that unless it was the Commander or the Pilot in a mission, then a little alcohol in the system of the Mission Specialists wouldn't be such a bad thing... afterall the most they would do in a takeoff would be to press a very limited number of buttons (if that), which even a tanked drunkard would be able to rememeber after having so much training.

Methinks the cost of aborting a launch due to a non-technical issue such as a minor increase in one person's blood alcohol levels above normal would be a very costly... an inebriated CMDR, on the other hand, would probably try to fly to Mars a bit prematurely.

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Anonymous Coward

Timing

When are they supposed to have time to get drunk before launch.?

They wake 10 to 12 hours before launch, and it's a busy 12 hours. Surrounded by NASA employees, including tecnicians, flight doctors, and management. And filmed for most of that time for NASA TV.

I don't believe it.

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J

Detail

"so intoxicated prior to flight that flight surgeons and/or fellow astronauts raised concerns to local on-scene leadership regarding flight safety."

And my question is: does "so intoxicated" means... what? DUI levels? Or would less be enough to raise concerns "regarding flight safety"? Or was it really Irish levels, raising concerns regarding ANY safety? :O)

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Anonymous Coward

Might take a few drinks

more than ten to get me on that death trap you

all seem to forget a couple of times people had to

get on that thing after it had just __*KILLED*__ everybody

the time before bring on the cocktails and f*** everyone

who doesn't like it. Did you guys just wake up yesterday

or maybe time makes you forget death and blowing

up in small chunks(chumming the sharks off florida)

I assure you if you were in the shuttle you would remember it.

Cheers!

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What about...

Russian cosmonauts? I mean Russians love their Vodka...

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Response to "Who cares?"

Who cares? Everybody should! Astronauts, whether rightly or wrongly, are some of the most highly respected people in society and now we find NASA doesn't give a monkey about what they get up to? Few businesses tolerate alcohol in the workplace yet it's alright for astronauts responsible for multi-million dollar equipment to be rat-arsed? I know that cancelling or delaying a flight is incredibly costly but there should be reserve pilots ready to take over at a moment’s notice - the drunken pilots should then lose their jobs and not receive any settlement. With British pilots there was (and still is?) a requirement to not drink 48hrs before potentially flying - so you could manage a heavy Friday night but if you were on duty the following Monday you couldn't drink from Saturday morning onwards (even though you might not end up flying). Surely something of that order would be common sense for NASA? They are meant to be the best of the best but now NASA has been exposed for the big-boy's club that it is.

NASA is a joke - it serves little purpose and the PR value wore off long ago. It's time it was shut down and the money was diverted to something constructive. Heck, at least the "War on Terror" is effective at subsidising the US arms industry - NASA is just a money funnel that blows out bad PR at random intervals. Sadly we can expect money for these pricks to be increased as China kick starts its space program and the US tries desperately to save face, already damaged by the notion that the moon landings were faked.

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And this means???

This report would actually have some meaning if it had at least ONE incident where an elevated BAC had rendered an astronaut unfit for duty, or even had one accident or near-accident attributed.

But alas, nearly all NASA accidents have been due to equippment malfunctions that have been entirely outside the hands of the astronauts - the Apollo launchpad fire (due to bad wiring harness in 100% oxygen cabin), Apollo 13's on-board explosion (again, bad wiring in a cryo tank) , and both shuttle disasters (bad engine seals and take-off debris impact). Frankly, not bad reasons to calm some nerves the night before strapping yourself in.

We keep looking to astronauts to be something more than human, and then we get so upset when we find that they really are just very, very fit (intellectually and physically) humans.

As for the previous poster that whined about NASA's being a waste of money, an AMAZING amount of NASA technology and expertise has filtered down into the civilian economy, to say nothing about the pure science that things such as Hubble, Viking, Pioneer, Mars Rovers, etc. have generated. If anything, the recent Scaled Composite deaths while static engine testing should remind us all that this stuff really isn't that easy, and NASA can't just be replaced by private industry to do it all better, faster or cheaper. The X-Prize for private spaceflight was given to Scaled Comps for re-entering from "space" at Mach 3...the Shuttle re-enters from orbit at Mach 25+ (this immense speed is a function of orbital mechanics, and can't be "engineered around"). Clearly, the gap between where private spaceflight is and what NASA has done is much greater than the press would like us to believe...

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Nothing new.

To rework a common bumper-sticker -- "What Would Chuck Yeager Do?"

Well, Chuck Yeager broke the sound barrier in the Bell X-1 after breaking a rib or two. Had to use a lever to close the door to the cockpit. Kept it a secret so they wouldn't scrub him off the flight.

This is a surprise? Gentlemen and ladies, you do not get Emily Post on the frontier. You get Wild Bill Hickock.

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Sitting on the top of a Roman Candle

For the most part, during take off, astronauts are nothing more than cargo and they risk being a non-participtory member of the club of them what go up but not come down. I have not one whit of problem with any of these folks wishing to get a wee bit pissed befors bring stapped to freakin rocket and sent into space.

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RE: Who cares!

Quite! I can only echo some of the comments above -- I would nee a few drinks inside me before I strapped myself into a huge, computer-controlled explosive device headed for orbit.

I haven't lost any respect for these people just because they're as human as the next person.

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Anonymous Coward

Lost kit.

I reckon that most of the excuses for the kit writeoffs (elReg NASA articles passim) are covers for:

"Well, I definately had it, but I got shitfaced and can't remember where I left it."

TeeCee

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Law

umm

But if it's good enough for the Klingons - why not us??

Kaplach!

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FAA rules state 8 hours

FAA rules for flying is no alcohol consumption 8 hours before flight. And even then the BAC needs to be 0.04 or less. This would probably apply to the mission commander and pilot.

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@umm

Forget the Klingons, doesn't anybody remember Scotty. In at least one episode I can remember he had to get $h1tfaced to save the ship.

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