NASA Flies Drunk
Drive drunk, and you'll lose your license, your job, or maybe even your life. However, it seems there's (quite unbelievably) more tolerance for getting behind the "wheel" of a billion dollar NASA rocket while under the influence.
According to various reports released last week, astronauts were allowed by NASA to fly despite being considerably intoxicated. Although details are sketchy at best (no one seems to know when the incidents occurred, on what space craft, or who the astronauts were), it's another black eye for American space flight not long after the much-publicized attempted assault by Lisa Nowak of a co-worker's love interest. (Source: ctv.ca)
This most recent report is based on interviews with both astronauts and flight surgeons, who have revealed a number of critical instances where individuals were considerably intoxicated in the pre-flight period. In addition, the report also finds that, "Alcohol is freely used in crew quarters." (Source: npr.org)
While friends shouldn't let friends drive drunk, it seems NASA will allow its astronauts to fly. Despite warnings from flight surgeons that unnamed individuals should not be taking to the skies, NASA ignored concerns for flight safety.
True, it's difficult to determine what the role alcohol may have played or what anyone's definition of "heavy use" entails. Let's face it, heavy alcohol use can mean very different things to many different individuals.
Nonetheless, for an agency that has for generations represented an institution led by American role models, any mention of drunkenness is nothing less than embarrassing.
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