Today, there have been three negative news stories relating to NASA. The first of these was this story from Aviation Week, which claims in its first two paragraphs:
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.
Following this was a story from CNN that a computer destined for the ISS had been discovered to be sabotaged by an employee who deliberately cut wires.
Finally, there was this story that NASA employee Elizabeth Ann Osborn was caught embezzling over $150,000 through her employee Bank of America card and pleaded guilty on July 17.
NASA certainly has not had a good year for its PR with the Lisa Nowak debacle in February and the hostage shooting shortly after the more severe Virginia Tech shooting. While it would be nice if there was more public interest in what NASA is doing, I think that this raft of bad news will probably end up hurting the organization despite the attention it brings.