This year, NASA is just tanking on its public relations efforts. There was the Houston based astronaut wearing a special absorbent diaper chasing down her love interest's paramour in Florida who gets off the front pages due to Anna Nicole. Shuttle mission sees international blame game ensue after complete computer systems failure.
Former shuttle commander Eileen Collins was as stunned as anyone to learn of the astronaut alcohol claims in the upcoming health report.
Collins worries this will hurt the image of the astronauts, at least in the short term. "I hope people can really look at the good things astronauts do," she said.
Himmel, who retired in 1981 as associate director for what is now Glenn Research Center in Cleveland, wasn‘t surprised to learn the information was anonymous.
"Let‘s face it. Astronauts are a bunch of brothers and sisters, OK, and they‘ll cover each other‘s backsides because they‘re part of the team," he said. "And who knows what the role of the particular ones was to be. If he was just to sit in the middle seat somewhere and just be a passenger, you kind of say, ‘Well, gee, I hope he doesn‘t vomit on the way up.‘"(emphasis mine)
Er, how much money is spent on these very brainy and talented people? No wonder those in charge of NASA's astronaut evaluation team are feeling a bit of radiant heat. These days, who knows who has The Right Stuff? The nascent first female space program is chronicled in Right Stuff: Wrong Sex by Margaret Weitekamp.