HOUSTON (Reuters) - A panel has found that astronauts were allowed to fly on at least two occasions despite warnings they were so drunk they posed a flight risk, Aviation Week reported on Thursday on its Web site.
The publication said the panel set up by NASA to study astronaut health issues reported “heavy use of alcohol” within 12 hours of launch.
It said flight surgeons and other astronauts warned that the drunken astronauts posed a flight risk when they flew on the two known occasions.
The panel, established after the arrest of astronaut Lisa Nowak in February on assault charges, also apparently does not deal directly with Nowak or mention any other astronaut by name, Aviation Week said.
A spokeswoman at Houston’s Johnson Space Center, where the astronaut corps is based, would not comment but the space agency said it would release the findings of “two reviews regarding astronaut medical and behavioral health assessments” at a press conference on Friday in Washington.
NASA Administrator Michael Griffin ordered the reviews after Nowak, who flew on a shuttle mission last year, was arrested on February 5 in Orlando, Florida on charges she assaulted a woman she viewed as a romantic rival for another astronaut.
Nowak, supposedly wearing diapers so she would not have to stop, drove all night from Houston to Orlando to confront the woman, Air Force Captain Colleen Shipman, as she arrived at the Orlando airport.