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!