Report to NASA claims astronauts flew while drunk
WASHINGTON, July 27 (Reuters) NASA astronauts at least twice were permitted to fly in spacecraft despite signs they were drunk, according to a report released today by the US space agency.
NASA said it intends to investigate the allegations.
''Interviews with both flight surgeons and astronauts identified some episodes of heavy use of alcohol by astronauts in the immediate preflight period, which has led to flight safety concerns,'' said the report from a panel assessing astronaut health matters.
''Alcohol is freely used in crew quarters. Two specific instances were described where astronauts had been so intoxicated prior to flight that flight surgeons and/or fellow astronauts raised concerns to local on-scene leadership regarding flight safety,'' the report added.
''However, the individuals were still permitted to fly. 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 report stated.
NASA Administrator Michael Griffin ordered the report as well as another also released today after February's arrest of then-astronaut Lisa Nowak. She is scheduled to be tried on September 24 on charges of attempted kidnapping, battery and burglary.
REUTERS JT BD2317