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NASA Safety Review Finds No Evidence of Improper AlcoholUse by Astronauts Before Space Flight



From: NASA News <hqnews@mediaservices.nasa.gov>
To: NASA News <hqnews@mediaservices.nasa.gov>
Date: Wed Aug 29 13:50:00 EDT 2007
Subject: NASA Safety Review Finds No Evidence of Improper Alcohol Use 
by Astronauts Before Space Flight

Aug. 29. 2007

David Mould/Michael Cabbage
Headquarters, Washington
202-358-1600
david.r.mould@nasa.gov, mcabbage@nasa.gov

RELEASE: 07-184

NASA SAFETY REVIEW FINDS NO EVIDENCE OF IMPROPER ALCOHOL USE BY 
ASTRONAUTS BEFORE SPACE FLIGHT

WASHINGTON -- A NASA safety review released Wednesday found no
evidence to support claims that astronauts were impaired by alcohol
when they flew in space. NASA chief of Safety and Mission Assurance
Bryan O'Connor conducted the monthlong review to evaluate allegations
included in the Astronaut Health Care System Review Committee's
report, which was released in late July.

"I have said many times during the past weeks that NASA takes these
allegations very seriously -- just as we would any issues that could
impact the safety of our missions," NASA Administrator Michael
Griffin told a news conference at NASA Headquarters. "But at the same
time, I also have said that the stories cited in the report seem
improbable to those of us familiar with the astronauts' rigorous and
very public activities during the hours leading up to a space
flight."

O'Connor's review covered the past 20 years of space flight and
includes:



approximately 90 interviews with participants and witnesses to the
last few days before shuttle and Soyuz launches, including current
and former astronauts, flight surgeons, research and operations
support nurses, shuttle suite technicians, closeout crew technicians
and the managers and staff of crew quarters, including managers
familiar with the crew quarters in Kazakhstan;

a review of more than 40,000 records dating back to 1984, including
mishap and close call reports, anonymous safety reports, safety
hotline reports and disciplinary actions involving alcohol and drugs.
These records cover 94 shuttle missions and 10 Soyuz missions;

a review of relevant policies, procedures and near-launch timelines
and staffing; and

an inspection of crew quarters at Johnson Space Center in Houston and
the Kennedy Space Center in Florida.



O'Connor interviewed almost 80 percent of active astronauts and all
current operational flight surgeons. None of them corroborated
allegations of preflight alcohol use or claims that management
disregarded flight surgeon concerns about alcohol impairment and
astronauts' fitness to fly.

"My review represents a good deal more investigation than normally
would be done in response to an anonymous safety concern," O'Connor
said. "As a result, I am confident there are enough safeguards in
place to prevent an impaired crewmember from being strapped into a
spacecraft."

NASA is moving forward with a wide range of improvements based on
other recommendations from the Astronaut Health Care System Review
Committee's report.

Working with members of the astronaut corps, NASA is developing a
formal astronaut code of conduct, or "Expected Astronaut Principles
of Behavior," which will be a document that outlines expectations.
The agency's medical managers also are studying how changes and
initiatives advocated by the committee would fit into NASA health
care procedures in a way that improves their effectiveness.

And NASA has accepted recommendations concerning the analysis and use
of behavioral health data to improve astronaut selection criteria.

NASA will convene expert working groups to advise the agency on
possible changes to its psychological testing. Additional training
for flight surgeons in behavioral health assessments is planned, and
evaluations will be added to annual flight physicals for all
astronauts. Continuity of care in NASA clinics will be evaluated. The
agency will ensure better clinical communication through regular
meetings between behavioral health providers and flight surgeons.

In addition, NASA plans to improve procedures and instructions used in
the administration of health care services for its behavioral health
clinic. Briefings by flight surgeons to crewmembers are being
re-emphasized to ensure astronauts fully understand the nature and
purpose of all health-related testing and data collection. Senior
NASA leaders also are holding meetings with flight surgeons and
astronauts to ensure they understand the multiple pathways to
communicate safety and health concerns.

To view O'Connor's report, along with a transcript and video of
Wednesday's news conference, visit:

http://www.nasa.gov/audience/formedia/features/astronautreport.html


-end-



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