Astronauts: August 2007 Archives

Shifting the Blame

Commentary: Insanity Claim Makes NASA Look Inept, Discovery News

"In court documents, the lead attorney for ex-astronaut Lisa Nowak outlined several mental conditions which psychiatrists say made her legally insane when she allegedly attacked a romantic rival in an Orlando airport parking lot. At least two of the afflictions, obsessive-compulsive disorder and Asperger syndrome, a neurobiological condition related to autism, typically manifest in childhood or early adulthood."

Editor's note: There are a lot of people who are going to be outraged to learn that someone claiming to have Asperger syndrome - one of NASA's (former) finest - is stooping so low as to use Aspergers as part of an insanity defense. People with Asperger's are not insane. To be honest, based on what has appeared in media reports and court documents, I personally think that it is about time that Lisa Nowak started to accept a little responsibility for her actions. Moreover, If indeed she has Aspergers syndrome, why didn't she inform NASA of this? If things were this bad (as her lawyer seems to think), shouldn't she have been enough of a professional to have informed her superiors of this potentially debilitating condition - one that could have affected her performance? Lots of troubling questions here.

No Preflight Inebriation

Findings of NASA Safety Review Following Astronaut Health Reviews

"The lack of privacy on launch day makes it nearly impossible to hide alcohol use or alcohol-induced impairment. Could a crewmember drink to the point of inebriation in his/her room the night before launch? Certainly, but, from the time the crew wakes on launch morning until they lift off, they are surrounded by other astronauts, managers, support crew, television (TV) cameramen, still photographers, crew quarters staff and others. Breakfast, the first scheduled event, usually starts 30 minutes after wakeup and is held in the same dining room shared by support crew and operational managers."

"The result of my tours and interviews was this: alcohol is available in the crew quarters, but is only used during off-duty hours. None of the people I talked to or heard from admitted to witnessing anything more than moderate use on L-2, light use on L-1, and none at all on launch day before cabin ingress or scrub."

Ex-astronaut Nowak may rely on insanity defense, Reuters

"Former NASA astronaut Lisa Nowak may claim at trial she was insane when she stalked and attacked a romantic rival during the unraveling of a love triangle with a fellow ex-astronaut, according to court papers released on Tuesday."

NASA Releases Results of O'Connor Safety Review

"On Wednesday, Aug. 29, NASA will announce the results of a review conducted by NASA Chief of Safety and Mission Assurance Bryan O'Connor to evaluate allegations of improper alcohol use by astronauts."

Editor's note: Word has it that O'Connor's team was unable to substantiate any of the astronaut pre-flight drinking allegations made in the report issued in July.

Ed Lu Goes to Google

Google Hires Former NASA Astronaut, Wired

"Ed Lu, who flew on two Shuttle flights and spent 6 months on the International Space Station after the Columbia disaster, will be moving to balmy California to start his next mission at Google."

Orange County prepares for Nowak circus, Orlando Sentinel

" will offer live streaming video of the hearing which will run from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. The Sentinel will be using the pool feed, which is being produced for everyone by Court TV. "It's the best courtroom drama we have," said Tim Sullivan, Court TV News senior vice president."

Live blog

Editor's note:The narrator of the Sentinel's video of Nowak in her holding cell at Orlando International Airport claims that Nowak was in Florida "to confront rival astronaut Colleen Shipman". Newsflash: Shipman is not an astronaut.

I Lost My Laptop in Outer Space, and Other Tales of Office Theft, NY Times

"I have periodically thought of that moment with embarrassment. Who on earth steals toilet paper? Then, last month, the Government Accountability Office released a report estimating that NASA employees had stolen $94 million in office supplies and equipment over the last decade. One thief appropriated an office laptop as his own by declaring the machine lost. It had been thrown from the International Space Station, he explained, apparently with a straight face, and burned up in the Earths atmosphere."

Property Management: Lack of Accountability and Weak Internal Controls Leave NASA Equipment Vulnerable to Loss, Theft, and Misuse, GAO

"This computer, although assigned to me, was being used on board the International Space Station. I was informed that it was tossed overboard to be burned up in the atmosphere when it failed."

Another NASA Spinoff

Editor's note: Have a look at this sample of "Pearls before Swine". There seems to be a Nowak theme running through it - an unintended NASA spinoff? (sigh).

Editor's note: The following was posted by Rand Simberg on his "Transterrestrial Musings" blog. Yes, I guess it is still funny for some sickos to make jokes about more astronauts getting killed - and to make sure to get a link to a drunk crazy astronaut story in the process.


Apparently, the concern is not for loss of the vehicle (and of course, the crew, but we have lots of astronauts*, and only three orbiters left)

* Of course, the fact that we'd lose Barbara Morgan, the other "teacher in space" (quotes because she's officially an astronaut) would have dire PR effects.

Ed Lu Is Leaving NASA

Astronaut Ed Lu Leaves NASA

"Veteran International Space Station astronaut and space shuttle flyer Ed Lu has left NASA to accept a position in the private sector. Lu flew on two shuttle missions and lived six months aboard the station as a member of the orbiting laboratory's seventh crew."

Editor's note: I was looking through the various NASA-related photos that have been posted on Yahoo in the past 24 hours when I came across this. It was on the third page of photos at the time I looked (7:56 am EDT). Lets see how long this caption stays up.

So far, no evidence of drunk astronauts: NASA, Reuters

NASA chief questions alcohol abuse allegations, Houston Chronicle

"I have difficulty attaching credibility to the charges," Griffin said in an interview at the Kennedy Space Center, where the shuttle Endeavour was in the final hours of a countdown to launch. "I've never seen one of our astronauts or for that matter one of our flight directors, flight controllers or anyone else on operational side of these things behave in such a way that their partying got in the way of their job," Griffin said."

Nowak Update

Ex-Astronaut Asks to End Use of Ankle Bracelet, NY Times

"Capt. Lisa Marie Nowak wants to get rid of her ankle bracelet. A lawyer for Captain Nowak, the former astronaut charged with attempted kidnapping after driving more than 900 miles from Texas to Florida to confront a romantic rival in February, argued in papers filed in a Florida circuit court in Orlando this afternoon that the electronic monitoring device is a personal, physical and financial hardship. She has been wearing the device as a condition of her release from jail."

Human failings serve as NASA wake-up call: How medical rules were bent -- and why remedies are needed, MSNBC

"To the embarrassment of NASA officials, and to the glee of far too many outside cynics, the public has been treated to a ghastly parade of human failings from space workers that might have led to disaster if they occurred during flight: February's story of a love triangle gone wrong, which resulted in the arrest of astronaut Lisa Nowak; a murder-suicide at NASA's Johnson Space Center; and last month's tales of heavy alcohol use in the astronaut corps."

Letter from NASA Astronaut and STS-118 Commander Scott Kelly Regarding Media Coverage of Astronaut Health Committee

"My understanding and that of the rest of my crew with regard to NASAs policy on alcohol and flying aircraft, or spacecraft, was no different before this panels report was released than it is now. It simply does not happen."

Photos From Space: What Astronaut Clay Anderson Is Reading, SpaceRef

Editor's note: "It is getting harder and harder to find interesting things in the photos sent back from the ISS. Not only are there fewer internal photos being sent back these days, but someone is clearly screening them so as to not let anything interesting slip through. I am told that Mike Griffin's favorite communications guru Marsha Ivins used to do this screening personally."

Reader Comments: "Regarding your last commentary - Clay has a daily trivia quiz that he does with MCC-Houston and (I think) the POCC at Goddard for fun. Apparently that's where he gets his questions from."

"Right after Clay arrived at ISS, he started a ritual of asking ground controllers in Houston and Huntsville trivia questions, getting the answer the following day. He apparently uses the book to get the questions and answers."

Bad Research at Wired

Ex-Astronaut's Lonely Mission: Save Earth From Asteroid Strike, Wired

"Former astronaut Rusty Schweickart has already earned his place in the history books by going to the moon with the Apollo 9 mission. However, should an asteroid crash into the Earth anytime soon, killing millions and causing catastrophic damage, he'll also be remembered as the guy whose warnings we ignored."

Editor's note: Rusty did not go to the moon on Apollo 9. Nor did the Apollo 9 mission. Indeed, just do a lazy Google of "Apollo 9" and only read the first entry that pops up. No mention of going to the moon. And that picture of the Apollo 9 LEM - the blue stuff in the background is not the Sea of Tranquility. Rusty is a rather articulate fellow so, I guess that means ....

This historical error aside, it is an interesting article - about an important topic.

NASA JSC Solicitation: Digital Cameras and Digital Peripherals

"NASA/JSC has a requirement for multiple digital cameras and camera peripherals. The digital cameras and all camera peripherals must be manufactured from the same lot. NASA has a requirement for 48 Nikon D2XS SLR Digital Cameras. The cameras must be lubricated with Braycote lubricating grease which is approved for spaceflight during the manufacturing process. Attempts to compete similar efforts have been unsuccessful due to the camera equipment having to be manufactured from the same lot and items requiring Braycote lubricant grease having to be lubricated during the manufacturing and assembly process."

Editor's note: This Expedition 15 photo should give you an idea of what camera gear they already have on orbit.

In Defense of Drunk Astronauts, opinion,

"Cut these cowboys some slack. These are not wobbly Northwest Airlines pilots trying to get off the runway and steer through clouds and densely occupied airspace. An ascending space shuttle, I assure you, encounters very little traffic. And for much of liftoff, the astronaut is little more than spam in a can -- not pilot but guinea pig. With opposable thumbs, to be sure, yet with only one specific task: to come out alive."

Editor's note: On one hand, Krauthammer places the risks that astronauts take into a true persective - sort of. I think he wa trying to be funny when he wrote this. Trying. Yet on the other hand he seems to be condoning the use of alcohol by astronauts during launch activities - the same behavior NASA said that it will not tolerate. As is usually the case with his bombastic writing about NASA, Krauthammer does not have a clue how the things he pontificates about actually work. What would happen, let's say, if the crew suddenly had to scramble out of an orbiter during an abort on the pad? Or make an emergency TAL abort landing due to some malfunction? You certainly need every physical and mental system running at full capacity for that. Details, Mr. Krauthammer, details. That's why they call it "Rocket Science".



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This page is an archive of entries in the Astronauts category from August 2007.

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