As much as I am a strong supporter of aerospace exploration and development I think we may need to get rid of NASA and re-examine how we should proceed into space. Recent news of drunk astronauts being allowed to launch with a mission and sabotaged equipment have increased the already-vocal criticisms of the space agency and its efforts. The two issues are almost certainly related. If I were going to fly on a ship I didn’t trust I’d fly crocked to the gills unless I’m the pilot, and if I wasn’t of a drinking nature maybe I’d break something to highlight system issues.

NASA officials let the astronauts fly, even after flight surgeons and fellow astronauts said they were concerned that flight safety might be jeopardized. The report is the work of a panel created by NASA after the arrest of astronaut Lisa Nowak in February on charges that she tried to kidnap her rival in a love triangle.

The committee’s report includes new interim rules that call for not imbibing alcohol in the 12 hours before launch.

The space agency is also investigating the sabotage of a computer scheduled for delivery to the International Space Station during a space shuttle mission next month. NASA Operations Chief Bill Gerstenmaier said Thursday that a worker at a subcontractor deliberately cut wires on a computer. Officials have not said where the sabotage happened.

“We … inspected the flight unit and discovered some wires were cut on the inside of that unit,” Gerstenmaier said. “It’s currently being investigated by the inspector-general’s office.”

I can sympathize with the drunks and sabateurs even if I do not agree with their actions. Flying the space shuttle has become a game of russian roulette and the ISS has turned from a promise into a boondoggle, a dangerous facility that currently only exists to prove it can. I believe the state of the industry is such that we can abolish NASA in favor of a space commercialization office that simply provided funding to private and joint private/government research and development efforts.

  1. RTaylor says:

    A lot of these crews come from military aviation, and are still on active duty. Heavy drinking is part of the culture of these pilots/aviators.

  2. Twice I’ve driven home from a night club blasted out of my mind drunk on a dozen Tom Collins. And miraculously, I drove back home on auto-pilot. I have no clue or memory of the drive back home. Amazingly I even parallel parked in a tight spot with no trouble. Getting home I passed out in the hall way.

    Piloting or driving drunk is not as irresponsible as it might seem.

  3. Read says:

    “Piloting or driving drunk is not as irresponsible as it might seem.”

    #2 — I’ve never done this before, but you, sir are a total fucking idiot.

  4. Angel H. Wong says:

    If an alcoholic, Bible thumping, cocaine snorting Yale graduate can become the president of the USA then why can’t astronauts fly into space after drinking a several shots of Jack Daniels?

  5. Milo says:

    No doubt Bush is out to get NASA because so many of his supporters believe that the Earth is flat and that the sun orbits it!

  6. Smartalix says:


    Not eliminate the space effort, reorganize it.

  7. Mr. Fusion says:

    #4, Read,

    Please allow me to assist.

    #2, You are a total fucked up, retarded, idiot, inconsiderate, stupid, irrational, selfish. moranic, illogical, backward, feeble headed, brainless, simple minded, thoughtless, half wit I could ever dream of.

    And you are not too bright either.

  8. jarry says:

    I think if I was going to fly a 20 year old out of date space shuttle I would be drunk out of my mind too the day off… CHEERS!!!

  9. Phillep says:

    #2 – It’s not the normal events that trip up the drunk drivers, it’s the out of the ordinary. Besides, how do you know the sober drivers did not have to take emergency evasive action to avoid your worthless ass?

    #5 – I don’t think “Hoover Nose” Clinton went to Yale.

  10. joshua says:

    NASA has become what all goverment agencies become after some time has passed, useless. We could as Smartalix said, give funding to semi-private groups and get better results and for far less money.
    Look what that group in California has done without goverment funding…sure, they had an accident the other day…but they have shown where the real future of space travel is.
    The problems is, the military and the usual goverment bearucracy. One wants all applications for military use, not civilian and the other just wants it’s typical job protection racket to continue.

  11. OmarTheAlien says:

    There are mind boggling profits to be made exploring/exploiting space and the things in it, so maybe it’s time to hand off the job to private industry instead of governments. That way the politicians will be less of a factor in the technological approach, leaving the financing, design and vision to the people who stand to lose/profit the most. Kennedy/Luna and Bush/Mars were/are political strategems designed to achieve political ends first, and space exploration second.
    As far as drinking and flying the space shuttle; the thing has a few million parts, the failure of any could lead to a real ball buster of a public death, and many pulled off shelves where they’ve been gathering dust in delicate innards since the seventies. It’s been a few years since I’ve even taken a drink, but I don’t think a shooter or two before lift-off would bother anything, hell, the computers do all the work.

  12. MikeN says:

    They came so close to dropping the space station early in Clinton’s presidency. Then NASA ‘learned its lesson’ and spread the jobs out into as many congressional districts as they could.

  13. hhopper says:

    #2 – You are hereby endowed with the Ultimate King Kahuna Moron Award.

  14. BubbaRay says:

    Imagine the presence in space we could have with the Iraq / Halliburton war chest money spent on privatization of space travel. I could be vacationing in a hotel on a real space station right now. Say, wasn’t that supposed to be 2001?

    [off topic]
    #4, Read, #8, Mr. Fusion, Anything else I say at this point would certainly be banned by the editors.

  15. #4, 8, 10, 14…

    Dudes, I’m not condoning drunk driving. After the second time I realized my potential deadly mistake. It’s not like I planned on it. And clearly (apparently not to a few) what I meant was that it is POSSIBLE to drive drunk without adverse effects. Yes, I don’t recall how I was driving but I did wake up the next day to see my car parked evenly along the curb. And I have been in a car with a drunk driver who was totally blasted while I was completely sober (i was 18). Amazingly he drove like driving a instructor– he drove better drunk than sober!

    I easily forget that I’m not just talking to you guys like if we are at bar or something. I easily forget that this is the internet and there are probably KIDS who are reading this.

    100% driving under the influence of alcohol is DUMB. DON’T DO IT.

    I’m simply sharing with you a STUPID mistake that I’ve made. I’m lucky nothing happened otherwise I would have been 100% thrown in JAIL.

    Again, I was just trying to make the point that there is an “auto-pilot” built in us. I’ve also experienced this while falling asleep at the wheel and not remembering how I’ve managed to stay on the highway.

  16. Mister Mustard says:

    >>I don’t think “Hoover Nose” Clinton went to Yale.

    Do you think at all? Clinton went to Yale, Oxford, and Georgetown. Perhaps you’ve heard of them, although it’s painfully obvious that you have never matriculated there.

    As to “Hoover Nose”, the only “Hoover-nosed president I am aware of is Little King Dumbya. Bill may have some issues with the proper disposition of his smoking materials (he penetrates, rather than inhales), but I’ve never heard the nuttiest of the neocon nutjobs (Anal Cyst Limbaugh, Adams Apple Coulter, Loofah Pad O’Reilly) claim he was a coke fiend.

    There’s only on “president” who fits that bill, and he’s usually found at his own personal Promises Crawford detox unit, clearing brush.

  17. Mr. Fusion says:

    Let the private sector do it??? Are you idiots effen into your own Jack Daniels???

    Can anyone name ONE major government contractor big enough to take over the space program that hasn’t been caught with their hand in the cookie jar?

    NASA might not be all successes. They do a fantastic job however. Better than any other group on this planet. The biggest problem is the political interference. Next biggest is the cost. I much prefer having our own government auditors watching over their shoulders than having a private sector auditor watching.

  18. joshua says:

    #19….Fusion….not a goverment contractor….but actual private business….maybe have to give some seed money to several companies first….then let them at it….if there is a way to do it without revenue loss, a good business will find it.

    Sure, keeping NASA , with proper funding and a house cleaning would be ok…but, like all goverment agencies, sooner or later it will be dysfuntional again, and we will have to do it all over again.

    NASA was the best at what it did, until the politicians stole the funding and it started making space travel like stationary bike riding and calling it progress.

  19. JoaoPT says:

    I was in the (maybe false) impression that the way NASA works is a bit like the military. They don’t build aircraft per se. They have this Hi-tech aeronautical/weapons industry and farm out contracts to it.
    I thought NASA worked the same way, having private companies building the hardware for it’s missions.
    I guess that Alix is just saying that NASA is too big and riddled with bad habits to do it’s job well… Maybe…

  20. Smartalix says:

    19, 20, 22,

    What I mean is to change approach from a bureacracy that contracts from a pool of suppliers for minimum bid on subsystems for programs designed by or for NASA into a program oif monetary incentives and goal-related processes.

    Instead of designing a space ship and then going to contractors to build it why not state a goal and promise abig cash payout to the winner in the manner of the Ortieg prize that got Lindbergh to fly across the Atlantic. If we had relied on the government to develop intercontinental flight we’d still be using seaplanes.

  21. JoaoPT says:

    Ah, you mean that NASA designs it’s own machines and subcontracts manufacturing and technical solutions…
    Yes, I can see that the way a Space Agency should work would be like a regulatory office and innovation agency. Set out generic goals, check safety of solutions and advise on Governmental acquisitions.
    This “Split” of NASA functions seems to imply also the creation of a “StarFleet”. Much in the same manner that 17th and 18th century navy was developed. Merchant companies (private sector) built fleets to commercially explore “new worlds” and there was built a strong Navy (Public sector) to protect them…

  22. Mr. Fusion says:

    #23, Alix

    I totally disagree and Lindbergh is a great reason why.
    1)His plane was inherently unstable
    2)he had too few navigational aids
    3)he had no communications (radios)
    4)he had no forward vision
    5)the runway he took off from was too short
    6)he knew he would be flying over populated areas right after takeoff when his plane would be the most unstable
    7)he knew that he would be flying over populated areas when his physical and mental strengths would be their weakest

    In other words, he was damn lucky he didn’t kill anyone else let alone himself. I’m not saying he wasn’t brave, just stupid and inconsiderate. Being the first at something is great. Lindbergh though is far from a good example and wasn’t the first to fly the Atlantic.

    The Atlantic had already been flown non-stop in 1919. Two British Air-Force pilots did it and did it as safely as reasonable, for the time, for a 10,000 Lb prize. Other non-stop and continuous flights were occurring world wide in this period.

    So I don’t think Lindbergh contributed nearly as much as you give him credit for. He was an American who managed to garner a lot of publicity. He is not the kind of example I would like to see exploring space.

  23. Jim Hass says:

    You guys, the original astronauts were drunk half the time anyway. Remember The Right Stuff? The right stuff was driving sports cars across the country as fast as possible and buzzing NASA in your jet. Haw-haw! So now, the Bush administration is trying to downgrade NASA — couldn’t do it by killing astronauts — by saying, ‘They’re all drunks!’ All of this in preparation to turning the whole job over to Halliburton. Then we’ll get enslaved Filipinos being work-ganged in to build rockets that explode. Great.

  24. smartalix says:

    Fusion, my friend, I believe we will have to disagree on this one.

  25. Lauren the Ghoti says:

    A bunch of wake-of-the-Nowak-fiasco, ass-covering, risk-averse, neo-Puritan, MADD-pandering nonsense.

    Those people going up show up at KSC by T -12:00:00, and they don’t leave until they’re suited up and headed for the vehicle. I know my way around the Cape fairly well, and last time I checked, there wasn’t a cocktail lounge or a Big Daddy’s Liquors at the VAB. If any one of ’em was rip-roaring drunk, it’s pretty doubtful that every one of the many dozens of people who interact with ’em in those 12 hours would somehow “not notice”… That’s just absurd on the face of it.

    As Angel noted facetiously – and Omar and I agree – I see nothing wrong with any of the crew having a stiff shot or two before lifting. The tension is utterly nerve-wracking, you can be sure, even for veteran test pilots – and sitting there in your couch, reading some indicators and flipping a toggle here and there is light-years away from driving the damn thing. There’s no steering wheel, no oncoming traffic to avoid, nothing that you need to steer to avoid – it simply can’t be equated with DUI, because, obviously it doesn’t involve driving!

    And Alix – where did you get this idea?

    “if I wasn’t of a drinking nature maybe I’d break something to highlight system issues.”

    That’s very nice, but this was simply some $10/hr local bozo working for a subcontractor who chopped some wires to cause trouble for his employers – IOW, petty shit, not some “dedicated aerospace engineer making a statement,” like in some silly Hollywood movie, just dumbass vandalism. I guarantee it, I’ve worked alongside such people in that very environment.

  26. Mr. Fusion says:

    #27, Alix,
    And I’ll still respect you in the morning.


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