From the archive, originally posted by: [ spectre ]

http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/11047520

SPACEFLIGHT BORING
http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/19981415/

NASA responds to claims of drinking problem
Agency promises to investigate report’s allegations of heavy alcohol
use

An independent panel was told that intoxicated NASA astronauts were
allowed to fly on a Russian Soyuz spacecraft and cleared to fly on the
space shuttle, the panel’s chairman said Friday. In response, NASA
said it is launching an investigation to try to verify the
allegations, will embrace an astronaut code of conduct and would weigh
changes in its drinking policies.

The two specific allegations about alcohol use were contained in the
independent panel’s report, released Friday. Air Force Col. Richard
Bachmann Jr., who chaired the panel, provided additional details
during a NASA news briefing in Washington.

Speaking over a telephone link, Bachmann said the Soyuz case involved
a NASA astronaut who was cleared for launch to the international space
station, even though some were concerned that the astronaut’s alcohol
consumption raised a flight risk. In the case involving the shuttle,
Bachmann said the mission was delayed for mechanical reasons and the
astronaut wanted to fly a jet from Florida back home to Houston. He
said he didn’t know the outcome.
Story continues below ↓advertisement

Bachmann said the two incidents were representative of the kinds of
reports he and other panel members heard about alcohol use in the
astronaut corps. He stressed, however, that his panel did not
independently verify the incidents cited by flight surgeons and
astronauts.

“In none of these can we say factually they did or did not occur,” he
said. Bachmann said it was not the panel’s mission to investigate
allegations, and that NASA would have to ferret out the details.

NASA’s top managers said they were unaware of any astronauts who were
drunk before a flight but promised to investigate further.

“We will act immediately on the more troubling aspects of this
report,” NASA Deputy Administrator Shana Dale said during Friday’s
briefing. Bryan O’Connor, NASA’s chief of safety and mission
assurance, was in charge of the investigation, she said.

Bachmann said he was “very glad to hear” that NASA was taking action.

NASA created Bachmann’s independent panel, as well as an internal
review board headed by Johnson Space Center director Mike Coats, after
the arrest of astronaut Lisa Nowak in February on charges she tried to
kidnap her rival in a love triangle. Both panels issued reports that
were released by NASA Friday.

The internal review focused on the issue of psychological screening of
astronauts, and specifically on Nowak’s case. The independent panel
also dealt with screening procedures but did not refer by name to
Nowak or any other astronaut.

Bachmann, an aerospace medical specialist with the Air Force, said his
panel deliberately did not seek out pertinent details on alcohol use,
such as exactly when the heavy drinking occurred. The overriding
concern, he said, was that flight surgeons were ignored.

“There’s certainly no intent to impugn the entire astronaut corps,”
Bachmann said. “We don’t have enough data to call it alcohol abuse. We
have no way of knowing if these are the only two incidents that have
ever occurred in the history of the astronaut corps or if they’re the
tip of a very large iceberg.”

NASA has long had a policy that prohibits any drinking in the 12 hours
before an astronaut flies a training jet. The space agency said that
policy has historically been applied to spaceflights, too. But as a
result of the panel’s report, the rule will officially be applied to
spaceflights, NASA said. An astronaut code of conduct also is in the
works.

Dale said the commander of the next space shuttle mission, set for
launch Aug. 7, has already met with O’Connor to discuss the
allegations and the behavior expectations for the upcoming flight.
Both commander Scott Kelly and the crew’s flight surgeon were
encouraged to raise any safety issues, Dale said.

DEHYDRATED BEER?
http://www.hurtyelbow.com/

“NASA probably has powdered beer in space, because NASA knows how to
prioritize. It’s like Tang. Except it’s beer. So what do you do when
you feel your fellow astronaut might be orbiting under the influence?
Nothing, because you’re an astronaut and you’re drunk too.

Let’s say there were interstellar law enforcement spaceships that
could police the area around earth (Who cares about the other planets
really?). Typical symptoms of drunk driving wouldn’t apply. First of
all, flying isn’t driving and secondly there’s nothing to run into in
space anyway. ”

http://www.aviationnow.com/aw/generic/story.jsp?id=news/drunk072607.xml&headline=Panel%20Finds%20Astronauts%20Flew%20While%20Intoxicated&channel=space

Panel Finds Astronauts Flew While Intoxicated
Jul 26, 2007

By Frank Morring, Jr./Aviation Week & Space Technology

A panel reviewing astronaut health issues in the wake of the Lisa
Nowak arrest has found that on at least two occasions astronauts were
allowed to fly after flight surgeons and other astronauts warned they
were so intoxicated that they posed a flight-safety risk.

The panel, also reported “heavy use of alcohol” by astronauts before
launch, within the standard 12-hour “bottle to throttle” rule applied
to NASA flight crew members.

A NASA spokesman declined comment on the findings, which were obtained
by Aviation Week & Space Technology. The spokesman said a press
conference has tentatively been scheduled for Friday afternoon on the
issue. At the direction of Administrator Michael Griffin, NASA Chief
Medical Officer Dr. Richard S. Williams set up the panel to review
astronaut medical and psychological screening after Nowak was arrested
in Orlando, Fla., Feb. 5 on charges of attempted murder and attempted
kidnapping for allegedly stalking and threatening a woman who was
dating another astronaut. The attempted murder charge was subsequently
dropped.

The panel is composed of military and civilian government physicians,
psychologists, lawyers, safety experts and astronauts under the
chairmanship of U.S. Air Force Col. Richard Bachmann, dean of the Air
Force School of Aerospace Medicine. Panel members visited Johnson
Space Center in April to gather information from flight surgeons and
the astronaut office on astronaut health screening. A panel member
said Wednesday the report was still in draft form, and probably would
be released in August. Separately, Griffin ordered JSC Director Mike
Coats to review intake and on-going psychological screening for
astronaut candidates and astronauts, and to recommend changes if
necessary.

Griffin also directed Coats, himself a former astronaut, to “determine
whether there were any areas of concern – any leading indicators we
might have picked up on, based on Lisa Nowak’s dealings with other
astronauts or NASA employees,” in the words of Deputy Administrator
Shana Dale.

The Bachmann panel report apparently does not deal directly with Nowak
or mention any other astronaut by name. Coats’ findings also will be
part of the press conference on Friday, according to the agency
spokesman.

MOST COSMONAUTS WASTED
http://www.thespacesite.com/forums,topic,1893

“Russian cosmonaut Salizhan Sharipov, just back from space, said that
alcohol should be allowed on the International Space Station as it
helps to cope with stress and enhances performance, the RIA-Novosti
news agency reports. Sharipov was speaking at the first news
conference organized after he, U.S. astronaut Leroy Chiao and Italian
astronaut Roberto Vittori successfully completed their mission on the
ISS on Monday. The Russian cosmonaut said that it would be “desirable”
for spacemen to have 50 milliliters of wine or cognac every day. “But
only to improve our work, to better cope with the psychological
stress,” Sharipov said. The Russian Soyuz capsule with the Russian,
American and Italian astronauts landed safely in Kazakhstan in the
early hours of Monday. Sharipov and Chiao, who have manned the station
since last October, returned with Italian astronaut Roberto Vittori,
who spent 10 days in space, having accompanied the two-man crew that
relieved Sharipov and Chiao.””

http://www.vor.ru/Space_now/Space_today/Space_25.html

“Sometimes, spacemen get a treat. Delicatessen are hidden, in
defiance of all service regulations, in packages mailed by their
relatives and friends. Some two hours before a cargo craft is due to
leave Earth, fruit, vegetables and other perishable products are added
to the payload and there is no way to put an end to this dispatch of
last-minute gifts to the orbital station. Once, a whole water melon
was smuggled to orbit. It successfully got there. Voice of Russia
listeners like to ask cosmonauts whether they are allowed to take a
stiff drink.  Cosmonaut Gennady Manakov says that
“fellow-crewman Gennady Strekalov turned 50 on October 8, 1990.
Some ten days before that a cargo craft docked with the space lab. It
brought packages and parcels from our families. On opening them, we
found letters, newspapers, and some food stuffs – garlic (it went down
well with rye bread,) two cans of beer and a plastic bottle of
cognac.”

ftp://ftp.vor.ru/Space/Space_today/Cosmos_next16-3.rm

Alcoholic beverages are banned on space missions but cosmonauts
are, like all natural men, apt to smuggle liquor for the celebration
of different holidays. Mere drops of liquor. And, they use needle less
syringes instead of glasses in outer space. Glasses won’t do under
zero gravity. Syringes serve just fine.”

THE COCKTAIL
http://www.drinksmixer.com/drink3001.html

How to Make a Cosmonaut:

2 parts Tang(r) powdered soft drink
1 part vodka
3 crushed ice cubes

THE INCIDENTS
http://blog.wired.com/wiredscience/2007/07/bottle-to-throt.html

Bottle-to-Throttle. Drunk Astronauts Cleared for Launch
By Fraser Cain  /  July 27, 2007

The story broke yesterday, thanks to Aviation Week, but now NASA has
come forth with the official details from a probe that investigated
astronaut health. According to the report, there were two times in the
past that astronauts were cleared to fly, even though they were still
drunk from partying the night before.

In the first situation, a shuttle astronaut’s blood tested beyond the
limits for alcohol, but was still cleared to fly. Fortunately, the
mission was delayed for mechanical reasons. In the other situation, an
astronaut flew on a Russian Soyuz spacecraft, getting drunk with his
cosmonaut comrades.

NASA has a policy that prohibits any drinking in the 12 hours before
an astronaut flies in a training jet – the bottle-to-throttle time –
and this policy has applied to spaceflights as well. But it wasn’t
enforced. As a result of this new panel, the rule will be official –
no drunk astronauts allowed.

This independent panel was set up by NASA after the situation with
Lisa Nowak earlier this year. In case you’ve already forgotten, Nowak
was arrested for attempting to kidnap the extra person in her love
triangle with another astronaut.

In addition to tightening the alcohol policies, NASA is also planning
to write up an official astronaut code of conduct.

The full report, including details about Nowak, the drunken
astronauts, and the investigators’ findings is available from NASA,
here.

ASTRONAUT HEALTH REPORTS

Independent panel’s review (PDF file)
http://msnbcmedia.msn.com/i/msnbc/Sections/Technology%20&%20Science/_1_Space%20News/PDF%20FILES/NASA_NASAhealthcareReport_0725FINAL.pdf

Internal review by Johnson Space Center (PDF file)
http://msnbcmedia.msn.com/i/msnbc/Sections/Technology%20&%20Science/_1_Space%20News/PDF%20FILES/NASA_JSC_Report%200727.pdf

NASA’s public medical review fact sheet (PDF file)
http://msnbcmedia.msn.com/i/msnbc/Sections/Technology%20&%20Science/_1_Space%20News/PDF%20FILES/NASA_Public_Medical%20_Review_Fact%20_Sheet%20_7-26-07.pdf

Frequently asked questions from NASA
http://www.nasa.gov/audience/formedia/features/astronaut_report_FAQ.html
http://www.nasa.gov/audience/formedia/features/astronautreport.html

VIDEO
http://video.msn.com/v/us/fv/msnbc/fv.htm??f=00&g=1e19614e-69bc-4999-8068-5e286764addf&p=news_space&t=m5&rf=http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/19981415/&fg=
Monica Novotny talks to former space and shuttle engineer James Oberg
about a new report that says NASA let astronauts fly drunk on two
occasions.

PERSONNEL ISSUES, CONT — SABOTAGE
http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/20003469/

Texas company provided sabotaged computer
No suspects or motives have been identified, said rep from Invocon

A Houston-area company supplied NASA with a computer that had been
deliberately damaged, a company official said Friday.

The computer is slated to fly to the international space station next
month aboard space shuttle Endeavour. The space agency announced
Thursday that wires inside the computer had been cut.

The manufacturer, Invocon Inc., an electronics research and
development firm based in Conroe, Texas, has not yet identified any
suspects or motives, said Invocon program director Kevin Champaigne.
Story continues below ↓advertisement

“We don’t know if it was just one person or if it was more than one,”
he said.

Invocon made the unit for Boeing Co., NASA’s main contractor for the
space station, he said.

Asked about the sabotage at a news conference in Washington on Friday,
NASA’s Deputy Administrator Shana Dale said she couldn’t provide any
more details because the agency’s inspector general was investigating
the incident.

The sabotage report came a day before NASA released the findings of an
independent panel  set up by the space agency to study astronaut
health issues after the arrest in February of former astronaut Lisa
Nowak on assault charges. The panel found “heavy use of alcohol” by
astronauts within 12 hours of launch, which is against NASA rules.

On Thursday, NASA officials said the damaged hardware did not pose a
safety risk. The hardware, which is about half the size of a
briefcase, is headed to the space station to collect data from strain
gauges on an outside beam.

Invocon alerted Boeing after finding severed wires in an identical
unit they were testing last week. The unit delivered to NASA and
another in storage had similar damage.

Ed Memi, a spokesman for Chicago-based Boeing, said the two units were
last tested on June 4 at Invocon and shipped to Boeing about a week
later. Boeing is repairing them with help from Invocon staff.

CONNECTED TO LABOR DISPUTE?
http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/19981415/

NASA reports computer sabotage
Official says damage has been repaired on part due for launch to
station
July 26, 2007

CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. – A space program worker deliberately damaged a
computer that is supposed to fly aboard the shuttle Endeavour in less
than two weeks, an act of sabotage that was caught before the
equipment was loaded onto the spaceship, NASA said Thursday.

The unidentified employee, who works for a NASA subcontractor, cut
wires inside the computer that is supposed to be delivered to the
international space station by Endeavour, said Bill Gerstenmaier,
NASA’s space operations chief. The worker also damaged a similar
computer that was not meant to fly to space.

Gerstenmaier said the damage, which occurred outside Florida, was
reported to NASA by the subcontractor. “It was disclosed to us as soon
as the event occurred, about a week and a half ago,” Gerstenmaier
said.

Even if the subcontractor hadn’t notified NASA, officials would have
found the problem before launch, he said: “The damage is very obvious,
easy to detect. It’s not a mystery to us.”

The same subcontractor also builds gauges for the shuttle’s wings and
other station computer components, Gerstenmaier said. No other damage
was detected, on Earth or in space, he said.

Gerstenmaier declined to identify the subcontractor or where the
damage took place, citing an investigation by NASA’s inspector
general. He also declined to speculate on whether the sabotage was
motivated by a workplace dispute or other factors — but he stressed
that the tampering had nothing to do with a continuing strike at
NASA’s Kennedy Space Center by a machinists union.

NASA hopes to fix the computer and launch it Aug. 7 as planned aboard
Endeavour. The computer is designed for use aboard the space station,
not the shuttle, and the damage would have posed no danger to either
shuttle or station astronauts, Gerstenmaier said.

The computer, which is to be placed in the U.S.-built Destiny
laboratory, is designed to collect and relay data from sensors on the
station’s external trusses. The sensors detect vibrations and forces,
such as micrometeoroid impacts.

Currently, those readings are stored in the sensors and not
immediately accessible. But the computer is not considered a critical
item. “If we don’t get it repaired in time, we’ll fly without it,”
said NASA spokesman Kyle Herring. “It’s not an issue.”

The damage is believed to be the first act of sabotage of flight
equipment NASA has discovered, Gerstenmaier and shuttle program
manager Wayne Hale said.

Official go-ahead for launch

The issue came up as Hale and other managers assessed Endeavour’s
readiness for the Aug. 7 liftoff. On Thursday, the management team
gave the official go-ahead for launch.

Endeavour, fresh from a complete overhaul and the last of NASA’s three
remaining shuttles to return to flight following the 2003 Columbia
disaster, is due to install a new structural beam on the international
space station during a mission scheduled to last at least 11 days. It
will be NASA’s second shuttle flight of the year.

Endeavour was almost totally rebuilt during its overhaul and was like
a new space shuttle, Hale said.

“It’s like driving a new car off the showroom floor,” he said.

HOUSTON, WE HAVE A SLIGHT DRINKING PROBLEM

http://www.chron.com/disp/story.mpl/space/5004322.html

How much would being impaired hurt a launch?
By ERIC BERGER  /  July 26, 2007

Five minutes before a space shuttle rockets into orbit, the pilot
flips a switch that provides power to critical systems during launch.

From that moment until 8 1/2 minutes after liftoff, the pilot,
commander and the rest of the space shuttle’s crew become hands-off
observers unless there’s a significant problem.

But those few minutes of the flight into space are perhaps the most
crucial, not the time for any crew members to be impaired as is
alleged to have happened on at least two launches in the shuttle’s
history, according to a report being released today.

“For all intents and purposes those are the last manual switch throws
until you’re on orbit,” said former astronaut Charles Bolden, a two-
time pilot and two-time commander of shuttle missions, of the
auxiliary power unit activation.

“But it’s not a time for the commander and pilot to ‘ooh’ and ‘ahh.’
You’re really, really monitoring the controls and displays as you go
up.”

The precise role of crew members during ascent is likely to emerge as
a critical issue today when NASA releases a report on astronaut health
matters, commissioned in the wake of Lisa Nowak’s arrest.

The report is expected to conclude that two astronauts were cleared to
fly despite concerns they were so intoxicated they posed a flight-
safety risk.

It’s a tradition for crew members, their spouses and friends to gather
for a barbecue on the eve of a shuttle launch, and these gatherings
sometimes include alcohol and a toast, said Dr. Jonathan Clark, a
former NASA flight surgeon who now works as a liaison between the
space agency and the National Space Biomedical Research Institute.

“Most of the astronauts are so tired, they’re just going to want to go
back and go to bed,” Clark said.

Five hours before the scheduled launch, the astronauts wake up in
their crew quarters, have breakfast and a short checkup with a flight
surgeon and receive status updates.

After that they travel to the launchpad and get strapped into the
vehicle. This is a cumbersome process because their flight suits are
bulky and, as the rocket is pointed skyward, they “sit” on their
backs.

Prior to flight all crew members perform several checks on their suits
and communication systems.

Launch is so critical, Bolden said, that about 90 percent of commander
training is dedicated to launch-day training, and specifically the
brief ascent to orbit. The “ascent checklist” for a recent flight,
STS-117, exceeded 200 pages.

But much of the tasks concern a scenario that has never occurred, an
engine failure or some other problem that would force the commander
and pilot to assume control of the shuttle and pilot it to an
emergency landing site in Europe.

Upon reaching orbit most of the crew is busy with post-ascent
checklists, such as checking the cargo brought up during the flight.

As a flight surgeon, Clark said there are greater worries for
astronauts than a hangover. Preparation before a flight can leave
overworked astronauts sleep-deprived.

Their flight medications can also cause problems, as can the motion
sickness that accompanies an intense, bumpy ride into orbit.

“It’s a high-stress period, and the biggest threat is that they’re
sleep-deprived and overworked before they start,” Clark said. “That’s
a far greater challenge than drinking the night before a flight.”

{email : eric [dot] berger [at] chron [dot] com}

.

COMMENT
http://science.slashdot.org/article.pl?sid=07/07/28/1217222

Re:Is launching a shuttle so difficult?
by Anonymous Coward on Saturday July 28

“I worked on shuttle GN&C software for 7 years written mainly in HAL/S
and about 20 other assorted languages if you count test scripts, DFG,
I-LOAD, K-LOAD, etc…. Haven’t been there since 1995 when I entered
the private consulting business.

For a nominal launch, astronauts just sit there. All the talk is just
that, talk. Until the SRBs are gone, it is a very bumpy ride I’ve been
told. It is likely they’ve been sitting there upside down for over 4
hours, more likely 6+. I don’t know about you, but my legs would have
gone asleep after 20 minutes. They wear pressure suites, not G-suites,
in case someone was going to say that would keep their legs from going
to sleep.

For any type of abort, the pilot and copilot will need to do something
– push buttons, grab the stick, push more buttons and lower the
landing gear. I didn’t see in the report or on NASA select yesterday
where anyone was identified as pilot, copilot or mission specialists.

Ok, back when I was working on the 3-engine out project with, I don’t
know, 4 other folks, writing modules to handle this catasprophy, we
decided to have an “offsite team building exercise.” That’s code for
mid-afternoon meeting at a local bar. A few of us were in there when
an astronaut – not known to me, but known by a coworker that had a
plane – came over. He exchanged niceties and we described what we were
working on – 3 engine out scenarios. The response? A direct quote,
“Hell, your just gonna die anyways.” To which my freind responded,
“Yes, but now it will be automated.”

Ok, most of the big software projects after challenger were “safety”
related – what a waste of time and money. Imagine you’ve been sitting
upside down for 4-8+ hours. Something bad happens, the vehicle is
spinning in ways it never was meant to spin. Suppose, just suppose you
aren’t unconcious (very unlikely) due to the spinning and G-forces.
Try to unbuckle, get out of your seat, crawl, fly, walk, whatever in a
dark enclosure to the “pole”. Someone has to deploy the pole, next
click yourself to that pole and slide out it. You’re still spinning.
Whatever is left of the shuttle is trying to keep the vehicle stead
and oriented like an aircraft on the ground. GOOD LUCK with that.

As far as automatic landing is concerned – the shuttle GN&C software
has had the ability to do that since before 1989 – probably long
before that. The **only** manual item left to be performed is lowering
the landing gear. This part of the software has never been used on a
mission, though it is part of every OPS 3 load. Think about it. You
train and train as an astronuat for years, you finally get a flight –
usually just 1. I doubt it is even discussed whether the computers
will land or not. One chance, what would you do? I’d grab that stick
and land that bugger myself.”

http://www.chron.com/disp/story.mpl/space/5004331.html

Owner at NASA hangout doubts fliers were drunk
Patrons say their confidence in the agency will drop if the reports
are true
By DALE LEZON

Some astronauts may toss down a few alcoholic drinks at parties, but
patrons at a favorite NASA eatery near the Johnson Space Center
question if any of them rocketed into orbit drunk.

“I don’t believe it,” said Frankie Camera, owner of Frenchie’s Italian
Restaurant. The cozy spot is a monument to NASA and astronauts, many
of whom have frequented it for years, Camera said.

Framed, signed photographs of smiling astronauts, orbiting space
shuttles and rockets rising from billowing fireballs adorn the walls.

Camera said he’s planned and catered banquets for astronauts for years
and he’s never seen any drink very much. Even the original seven
depicted in the book The Right Stuff by Tom Wolfe and the film by the
same name, never drank excessively that he saw, Camera added.

“The Mercury astronauts may have been a little more wild (than later
ones) but I did banquets for them and never really saw any of them
drink so much they were out of control or drunk,” he said.

NASA has scheduled a news conference today to discuss the findings of
two reports on astronaut medical and behavioral health. One of the
reports discovered heavy drinking before launches, according to
Aviation Week and Space Technology, a weekly aviation publication that
reviewed the findings.

If the report is true, said Chris Clayton, 26, it would shatter his
confidence in the space agency. He and Deanna McGregor, 20, who ate
lunch together at Frenchie’s Thursday, were stunned about the
allegations.

Clayton said he loves sitting in the restaurant and looking at all the
NASA mementos.

“I’m a little disappointed,” he said. “You want to have a little
faith. … It makes you wonder if they are doing they’re job.”

McGregor said if the revelations are accurate, she wonders if
astronauts and others take their jobs seriously.

“I wouldn’t expect that from NASA,” she said. “If you have rules,
you’d think you’d abide by them.”

{email : dale [dot] lezon [at] chron [dot] com}

BOTTLE TO THROTTLE
http://www.newscientist.com/channel/health/drugs-alcohol
http://space.newscientist.com/article/dn12388-beer-in-space-a-short-but-frothy-history.html

BEER IN SPACE
A short but frothy history
Anna Davison  /  31 July 2007

After allegations that astronauts flew drunk, NASA’s rules on alcohol
are under scrutiny. The agency currently doesn’t allow its astronauts
to imbibe in orbit, but over the years of crewed space travel, many
astronauts have enjoyed a tipple.

In 1969, Buzz Aldrin took communion after landing on the Moon, sipping
wine from a small chalice. In the Moon’s feeble gravity, he later
wrote, the wine swirled like syrup around the cup.

Small amounts of alcohol were apparently allowed on the Soviet space
station Mir, and when Russian astronauts joined the International
Space Station, there were some grumblings about the decree that it be
dry.

That hasn’t stopped some researchers from working on ways to brew and
serve alcohol in space, however.

Graduate student Kirsten Sterrett at the University of Colorado in the
US wrote a thesis on fermentation in space, with support from US beer
behemoth Coors. She sent a miniature brewing kit into orbit aboard a
space shuttle several years ago and produced a few sips of beer. She
later sampled the space brew, but because of chemicals in and near it
from her analysis, it didn’t taste great by the time she tried it.


http://space.newscientist.com/data/images/ns/cms/dn12388/dn12388-1_150.jpg
Kirsten Sterrett used a “Fluid Processing Apparatus” to ferment beer
on a space shuttle (Image: NASA)

Beyond the challenge of producing beer in space is the problem of
serving it, says Jonathan Clark, a former flight surgeon and now the
space medicine liaison for the National Space Biomedical Research
Institute in Houston, Texas, US.

Without gravity, bubbles don’t rise, so “obviously the foam isn’t
going to come to a head”, Clark told New Scientist.

The answer, Dutch researchers suggested in 2000, is to store beer in a
flexible membrane inside a barrel. Air can be pumped between the
barrel and the membrane, forcing the beer out of a tap. Astronauts
could then use straws to suck up blobs of beer (see Beer balls).
http://space.newscientist.com/article/dn276

Wet burps

Unfortunately for thirsty astronauts, beer is poorly suited to space
consumption because of the gas it includes. Without gravity to draw
liquids to the bottoms of their stomachs, leaving gases at the top,
astronauts tend to produce wet burps.

“That’s one of the reasons why we don’t have carbonated beverages on
the space menu,” NASA spokesperson William Jeffs told New Scientist.

Jeffs says no research has been done on the effects of alcohol in a
microgravity environment. But he says: “There may be differences in
alcohol absorption and metabolism in space, which makes one suspect
that there may be differences in the effects of alcohol in space.”

Clark says medications sometimes have unusual effects in space, which
“run the gamut from increased to decreased reactions”.

So, should astronauts be allowed to drink in space? “It depends on the
length of the mission and any cultural norms,” says Jay Buckey, a
former astronaut who studies space physiology at Dartmouth College in
New Hampshire, US.

“Mine was a very short mission,” says Buckey, who spent 16 days aboard
the space shuttle Columbia in 1998. “I didn’t see any need for it.”

NASA ETC
http://space.newscientist.com/article/mg16822704.200
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jay_C._Buckey
http://www.buckey08.com/

NATIONAL SPACE BIOMEDICAL RESEARCH INSTITUTE
http://www.nsbri.org/
http://www.spaceref.com/news/viewprtype.html?id=20&sdb=nasacenters&name=National+Space+Biomedical+Research+Institute+(NSBRI)
http://www7.nationalacademies.org/ssb/nsbri.html

EUROPEAN SPACE AGENCY
http://www.esa.int/esaCP/index.html
http://sci.esa.int/
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/European_Space_Agency

BEER BALLS
http://www.newscientist.com/article/dn276-beer-balls.html

22 December 2000

Future residents of the International Space Station could be toasting
Christmas with a draught beer.

A specially-designed barrel that overcomes the problems of storing and
pouring beer in space has been designed by a team at Delft University
of Technology in the Netherlands.

The major challenge was to work out a way to dispense the beer.
Conventional technology forces the beer out by injecting a gas –
usually carbon dioxide – into the liquid.

But in zero gravity, the liquid would float around inside the barrel.
This would mean that as much gas as beer would comes out of the tap,
making it undrinkable.

Flexible membrane

But now, after three and a half years of research, the team think they
have the ideal barrel.

“It has a flexible membrane, which contains the beer, inside the
barrel,” says Kajsa van Overbeek, the project supervisor. “Normal air
is pumped between the barrel wall and the membrane to force the beer
out.”

The team sent the barrel up in the European Space Agency’s “vomit
comet” to test it. This plane flies in a series of free falls and
climbs to give 30 seconds of simulated zero gravity each time.

The results could not have been better, says Veele Sterken, the Delft
project leader. As soon as they opened the tap, the beer poured
itself.

It came out in balls, each as big as a table tennis ball – about a
mouthful. An astronaut would simply have to grab a straw and suck.