Original URL: http://www.theregister.co.uk/2010/01/15/nasa_cocaine_discovery_hanger/

NASA finds cocaine in Space Shuttle hangar

Extra work on the nose cone

By Austin Modine

Posted in Science, 15th January 2010 18:50 GMT

NASA is trying to sniff out which employee brought a baggy of cocaine into the hangar that houses Space Shuttle Discovery at Kennedy Space Center in Florida this week. The space agency is preparing the shuttle for a launch to the International Space Station in March.

Spaceport officials said an employee found the bag Thursday morning outside a bathroom in the restricted shuttle hangar, Orbiter Processing Facility No. 3. The employee notified security, which conducted tests confirming that a "small amount" of cocaine remained in the bag.

Because access to the hangar requires a security badge, officials know about 200 NASA workers and contractors were around the facility at the time the drug was found. NASA said that while there are "no indications" that anyone was high on cocaine while working on Discovery, drug testing of employees in the area have been conducted.

"This is a rare and isolated incident, and I'm disappointed that it happened, but it should not detract from the outstanding work that is being done by a dedicated team on a daily basis," Kennedy Space Center Director Bob Cabana said in a statement. "We have processes that will ensure the integrity of the shuttle. There is no reason whatsoever to believe this incident will have any impact on Discovery's upcoming launch."

Embarrassingly, the incident came on the same week space shuttle workers took a half day off work to participate in NASA's employee "Safety Stand Down," held each year to "reinforce the importance of maintaining a strong and focused commitment to safety." Evidently, someone wanted a little extra focus for it. ®