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Astronauts are sober as judges, says NASA

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Astronauts do not fly drunk, and that's official. NASA has released details of its safety review, which found no evidence to support claims that spacefarers were hitting the bottle before heading for the stars.

NASA boss Michael Griffin said: "I have said many times during the past weeks that NASA takes these allegations very seriously ... I also have said that the stories cited in the report seem improbable to those of us familiar with the astronauts' rigourous and very public activities during the hours leading up to a space flight."

The review, conducted by NASA's chief of Safety and Mission Assurance Bryan O'Connor involved almost 100 interviews, and well as a review of 40,000 records dating from 1984, covering 94 shuttle missions and 10 Soyuz flights, and an inspection of the Johnson and Kennedy space centres. Nearly all active astronauts were among those interviewed.

O'Connor said he was confident there were sufficient safeguards in place to ensure that astronauts are not drunk when they fly.

The review was prompted by allegations that astronauts were so intoxicated ahead of missions that NASA's own medical staff had raised concerns. The allegations centred on a shuttle mission that was later delayed, and a Soyuz mission to the International Space Station. ®

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