Devon Island Expedition

Devon Island Expedition
This blog features educational updates on my Devon Island Expedition of July 14-20, 2007. Other sites:,

Sunday, July 29, 2007

Astronauts are Professionals

This has been a rough week for NASA and for the astronauts. A report has been released which alleges that on at least two occasions, NASA astronauts have been allowed to board spacecraft for launch, despite opposition from flight surgeons and other astronauts on the scene, because of concerns of alcohol consumption.

I must say that in my fifteen years at NASA, I never had even a whiff or hint of anything like this ever happening. First and foremost, astronauts are professionals. We pride ourselves on doing a good job. High personal standards are what got us into the corps in the first place. I'm not saying that there is no way that this has happened, but it seems farfetched. Flying into space is such a fantastic experience that I cannot imagine anyone wanting to be in anything but the most alert state.

The astronauts are not all above reproach. We've had our share of scandal and examples of poor judgment. In any population, especially of high-performing people under stress, there will be a few instances of excess. We are all human after all. Who of us has not ever had too much to drink at one time or another? What I'm talking about though, is that in general, when it comes time to do the job, astronauts, like other professionals, step up to the plate and take the job very seriously.

The allegations are very serious and possibly true. However, in the absence of any specifics, it is impossible to determine the veracity of the comments. NASA will conduct it's own investigation, I'm sure. We'll just have to wait and see what comes of it.

Leroy Chiao


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