Friday, July 27, 2007

High Flight

Well, this certainly lends a whole new meaning to the High Life.

For crying out loud ... is there no adult supervision anymore over at the Astronaut Office?

Mind you, there are some people who think that it's perfectly reasonable to get schnockered before climbing on top of a couple of million pounds of high explosive. I have to disagree. There is no procedure in manned spaceflight that I know of that is improved in any way by crew inebriation. And besides, I kind of preferred things the way they were back in the day when we could reasonably expect our astronaut corps not to embarrass us in public.

Ladies and gentlemen, can we please have some professional conduct? You know, keep 'em zipped, stay sober on company time, the sort of thing us civilians generally have to do? And once in a while, do remember that you're representing America to the world. The best and brightest, and all that jazz. At least, you're supposed to be the best and brightest. Even if you're really not, can you at least act like it?

Because I never before had to worry about the competence of the people riding the rockets. The managers, yes. The politicians, yes. But I always had absolute confidence in the eyes at the instruments, the hands at the controls.

I do not like having to worry about that. Fix this now. This kind of doubt, we cannot afford.

[Addendum, 30Aug07: According to this report, NASA has found that there is no evidence of astronauts partaking of liquid courage prior to boarding any spacecraft. While this is cause for relief, the fact that I can take a story like this at face value is still cause for concern. NASA needs to be seen to be tightening ship, whether they really need to or not. Perception takes on a reality of its own sometimes, and the public needs to see things happen so that they can regain confidence.]

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