Agency Hopes To Mitigate Future Nowak-Factor Risk
ANN 04.01.07 SPECIAL EDITION: An ounce of prevention
may be worth a pound of cure, to eliminate the possibility of an
orbital mental breakdown calamity, and another Lisa Nowak-style
public relations nightmare for NASA.
In a memo leaked to ANN by a NASA director close to the
operation, NASA announced engineers are using the
weather-damage-caused delay to the upcoming flight of the shuttle
Atlantis -- now scheduled for mid-May and the earliest -- to equip
the orbiter with a padded airlock, as well as a emergency
straightjacket to eliminate risk from the admittedly-improbable
chance of extreme behavior of an astronaut onboard the shuttle.
Similar to the thousands of NASA shuttle checklists, a new
checklist was also developed should an onboard astronaut exhibit
actions that could impede and disrupt onboard activities and pose a
danger to the crew and the mission.
According to psychologists, an adult in the US may be committed
involuntarily to a psychiatric institution if a police officer
judges the person to be insane; if a psychiatrist says the person
presents a danger to self or others; if relatives agree on
commitment; if the person is always intoxicated; if the person
Changes to what is known as DWM-IV (Diagnostic and Statistical
Manual of Mental Disorders, Fourth Edition) in psychology circles
have been implemented by NASA, so an adult does not have to actual
BE in the US, but be a US citizen (let's face it, outer space isn't
in the US); the shuttle chief would then act in the law enforcement
capacity (unless he or she is the one to be moved to the padded
airlock. In that case, it would be the next in command -- think
Additionally, an on-ground NASA psychologist would have input
into the decision that an astronaut is a danger to him or herself
or others; relatives would have input, but a decision would not be
made based on that input ("He's such a nice boy."); if the person
is "always intoxicated," would refer to alcohol and not oxygen;
hearing voices would apply to voices heard away from the headset
and eliminate voices from Shuttle colleagues.
Said the Shuttle Program Manager (who, obviously, asked that his
identity be concealed), the installation of the padded airlock and
the addition of a straight jacket to the items on board are a
positive benefit to the mission at minimal cost to the program.
He would not elaborate as to the procedures that would be
followed in case the improbable did happen, and an astronaut found
themselves straightjacketed in the padded airlock.