NASA: astronauts do not fly drunk

Investigation draws a blank

There is no evidence to support allegations that NASA astronauts have been flying drunk, NASA said this week.

The space agency has been reviewing the last 10 years of missions, and says it has turned up nothing to suggest that crews have been hitting the bottle before missions, Reuters reports. This is despite earlier reports that astronauts were allowed to fly on two occasions when doctors considered them dangerously drunk.

Administrator Michael Griffin said: "Right now, we've gone back 10 years and we can't even find where it would be a possibility there was crew under the influence on either a Soyuz or a shuttle."

The allegations were made in a report by a panel of health experts, called in after former astronaut Lisa Nowak was arrested and charged with attempted kidnapping.

The idea was a review of the health and screening policies would determine whether or not NASA should be keeping a closer eye on its crews. Instead, it threw even more unflattering light on the agency, during what should probably be described as its annus horribilis.

Griffin said it was his responsibility to investigate the allegations, but added that he would be "extraordinarily surprised" if there was any substance to the claims. ®

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