Panel finds heavy alcohol use by NASA astronauts

An independent health panel studying NASA astronauts found "heavy use of alcohol" before launch, according to a published report Thursday. Aviation Week & Space Technology, a weekly trade journal, reported the finding from the panel on its Web site. The weekly said that the committee 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 was created following the arrest in February of former space shuttle flier Lisa Nowak, who was implicated in a love triangle On Thursday afternoon, a media representative at Johnson Space Center in Houston said no one was answering any questions on the matter. NASA has scheduled a news conference for Friday to release the findings of a pair of reviews into astronauts' health.