Thursday, July 26, 2007

Getting high to get high?

From Aviation Week:

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.

A NASA spokesman declined comment on the findings, which were obtained by Aviation Week & Space Technology. The spokesman said a press conference has tentatively been scheduled for Friday afternoon on the issue. At the direction of Administrator Michael Griffin, NASA Chief Medical Officer Dr. Richard S. Williams set up the panel to review astronaut medical and psychological screening after Nowak was arrested in Orlando, Fla., Feb. 5 on charges of attempted murder and attempted kidnapping for allegedly stalking and threatening a woman who was dating another astronaut. The attempted murder charge was subsequently dropped.

Perhaps the astronauts read the statistic that if commercial aviation killed as many people as the space shuttle that the death toll would be something like 250,000 per year and just need a bit of fortification before climbing into the thing.