AUI – Astronauts Under the Influence

While Lindsay Lohan’s 2nd DUI this week and Nicole Richie’s sentencing for her 2nd DUI today is all the buzz (no pun intended) on the Internets, it does not surprise me or even really interest me. But the news, that on not ONE but TWO occasions, NASA astronauts may have flown drunk is shocking, alarming and outrageous.

According to an AP article, a NASA panel report said this about booze and spacemen:

“Two specific instances were described where astronauts had been so intoxicated prior to flight that flight surgeons and/or fellow astronauts raised concerns to local on-scene leadership regarding flight safety… However, the individuals were still permitted to fly.”

NASA has a similar “bottle to throttle” policy that the FAA has for pilots where individuals must not drink at least 12 hours prior to flight. However, the NASA report indicated that the astronauts have access to alcohol in their quarantined quarters in the three-day waiting period before a launch.

And speaking of launches – you can barely open your mouth about this serious topic without others chiming in with the bad and obvious puns which will certainly find their way into late night television talk shows. One colleague today said, “How about that… What a BLAST!” Another said, “I wondered where Buzz Aldrin got his nickname!”

I think it’s sad that NASA has apparently turned into an elite Rocket Flying Frat House – from bizarre love triangles with scorned lovers driving cross country in adult diapers to a new classification in “under the influence” citations: AUI – Astronauts Under the Influence.

Get the breathalyzers ready for the Kennedy Space Center, please!