Surveys Show Allegations Were False
NASA found itself in the
uncomfortable position this week of disputing a report the agency
itself had commissioned. On Wednesday, the space agency said a
report released last year -- at NASA's request -- that accused
astronauts of flying into orbit while intoxicated, had no merit
The space agency amended the earlier conclusions after
interviewing 91 percent of its astronauts and flight surgeons,
reports The Associated Press. Results of that survey were released
"In response to a direct question regarding personal
observations, all respondents reported never witnessing a crew
member consume alcohol, on launch day, in the time leading up to
launch," NASA said in its report.
As ANN reported, the space
agency -- stinging from media reports regarding the February 2007
arrest of (now-former) NASA astronaut Lisa Nowak, on charges of
attempted kidnapping -- commissioned the report to examine
potential health issues, both physical and mental, among its
The study, completed by an outside panel of doctors, engineers,
and present and former astronauts, was released in July... and said
there were two cases of inebriated astronauts flying into orbit
onboard the space shuttle. The report did not name names, or
specific flights on which the alleged incidents occurred.
NASA was quick to downplay the allegations in the report. In
August 2007, agency administrator Michael Griffin said he would be
"extraordinarily surprised" if the accusations were proven
"So far we haven't uncovered an issue," said Ellen Ochoa, deputy
director for the Johnson Space Center in Houston, in a Wednesday
"We're always interested in any factor that could affect crew
performance and we would follow up on anything that we thought
would affect performance. ... Astronauts are very professional and
when they're preparing for launch, they prepare for it as the most
serious endeavor of our lives," Ochoa asserted.
Ochoa did acknowledge one incident of "perceived impairment of a
crew member," that occurred during the final day of launch -- but
not on a launch day, or within 12 hours of a launch. "The incident
involved prescription medicine and alcohol," she said.
Dr. Richard Williams, NASA's chief health and medical officer,
said "in the incident that was referred to in the survey, the
individual was judged clear and medically fit to fly."
He did not elaborate, or name the afflicted astronaut, citing