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NASA scandals emerge over drunk astronauts

world Updated: Jul 27, 2007 09:41 IST

IANS
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An independent NASA report has found that on two occasions astronauts were drunk before flying on space shuttle mission.

The US space agency, meanwhile, disclosed on Thursday in an unrelated case that wires in a computer box meant for the International Space Station were cut in an act of sabotage.

NASA officials told reporters that the sliced wires in the computer box would not delay the planned August 7 launch of the Space Shuttle Endeavour.

"It will be repaired, and it will fly on this flight," NASA associate administrator Bill Gerstenmaier told reporters, according to the website Space.com.

The computer is designed to collect data about the space station's structure, and would not have jeopardised either the shuttle or ISS astronauts even if the damage had gone undiscovered, Gerstenmaier said.

Citing an ongoing investigation, he did not identify the subcontracting company that made the device.

A panel set up by NASA to review the health of astronauts concluded that on at least two occasions astronauts were allowed to launch into space despite warnings from doctors that they were too intoxicated to fly, Aviation Week & Space Technology reported on Thursday.

The panel reported "heavy use of alcohol" by the astronauts within 12 hours of flight in violation of the "bottle to throttle" rule, the magazine reported online.

The independent panel was set up by NASA following the February arrest of astronaut Lisa Nowak in an alleged stalking and kidnapping attempt. Nowack is accused of attacking another woman in a fit of jealousy over her former lover, also an astronaut.