Booster Rockets, Boozer Astronauts

NASA is in the news for all the wrongs rea­sons again:

An inde­pen­dent health pan­el dis­closed Fri­day that, at least twice, astro­nauts were cleared to fly despite warn­ings from flight sur­geons and oth­er astro­nauts about their heavy drink­ing.

In both cas­es, the doc­tors and oth­er astro­nauts were ignored by high­er-rank­ing offi­cials. Flight sur­geons feel so dis­re­gard­ed, in gen­er­al, that they told the pan­el they are demor­al­ized and less like­ly to report con­cerns of impaired per­for­mance. TheRightStuff

The Asso­ci­at­ed Press analy­sis blames it on sched­ule pres­sure:

It always seems to come down to sched­ule pres­sure, which con­tributed in large part to Columbia’s demise, Osheroff not­ed.

I think part of it is still this pres­sure to launch and launch on time,” he said. “I don’t know what it costs NASA to delay a launch. But there are two costs. One is a polit­i­cal cost and the oth­er is an eco­nom­ic cost.”

Sched­ule pres­sure? Must sound famil­iar to folks work­ing on soft­ware, and reminds me of this!

Anoth­er rev­e­la­tion is more shock­ing:

NASA also dis­closed last week that a work­er delib­er­ate­ly cut wires in equip­ment head­ed for the Inter­na­tion­al Space Sta­tion; the sab­o­tage was detect­ed and would’ve posed no dan­ger, offi­cials said.

All this is sad. NASA is already short of fund­ing and these rev­e­la­tions are a big set­back to its strug­gle for an image over­haul since the Colum­bia 2003 dis­as­ter. This is def­i­nite­ly NOT The Right Stuff.

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  • itsandil

    True. Let them first solve the prob­lems on *this* plan­et.

  • The “Right Stuff” may be in the pri­vate sec­tor and not NASA. I think NASA’s name may be for­ev­er tar­nished. Because we have prob­lems on this plan­et does not mean that we should not try to explore or dis­cov­er. Maybe we should try and quan­ti­fy exact­ly what the space pro­gram has give us; both cost (finan­cial and human) and ben­e­fit. This should be done in 5 year incre­ments by a pub­lic over­sight group (com­bined gov­ern­ment and pri­vate.)

  • Soon we will have “Drunk­en Rock­et-Fly­ing Pro­hib­it­ed” sign­boards float­ing in the out­er orbit. But yes, for an orga­ni­za­tion like NASA, where image and rep­u­ta­tion take a south­ward hit on a year­ly basis, they should be more care­ful with stuff like that. If anoth­er Colum­bia hap­pens, even if due to a com­plete­ly tech­ni­cal rea­son, these ghosts of the past will be res­ur­rect­ed.…. some­thing I am sure they are aware of. Good post!!

  • MMP/Sandy: I too think that we should not stop explo­ration. All the major nations have already turned their eyes and ambi­tions to space. Pri­vate sec­tor entre­pre­neur­ship in space has been increas­ing­ly encour­ag­ing. Let’s see what hap­pens!

    Oemar: “sign­boards float­ing in out­er orbit” — ha ha ha! Yes, NASA has been like an icon to many of us who grew up dur­ing or after the space-race, and it is sad­den­ing to see its rep­u­ta­tion being tar­nished to this extent. Thanks for the feed­back!