Até agora, todos os candidatos a astronauta eram apenas entrevistados uma vez, durante 2 horas, por um psicólogo, durante o processo de selecção. Apenas os astronautas nomeados para missões de longa duração na Estação Espacial Internacional (ISS) eram sujeitos a exames antes das missões, e entrevistas semanais com um médico via videoconferência.
Com os acontecimentos recentes, a NASA considerou serem insuficientes, e quem sabe arriscados, os procedimentos actuais, pelo que é previsível uma revisão.
Faço votos que seja uma revisão que vá beneficiar os astronautas e candidatos a astronauta, em vez de simplesmente os eliminar da 'fila de espera' para um vôo. Se isso acontecer, estão criadas as condições para os astronautas não revelarem realmente o que se possa estar a passar consigo próprios, com óbvios riscos para eles e para as missões em que possam vir a participar. Todos somos pessoas, ninguém é super-homem nem super-mulher, por isso todos podemos ter problemas, por vezes graves, mas isso não significa que não os possamos resolver e voar no espaço mais tarde.
NASA picks team to review astronaut care
Prompted by the arrest of now ex-astronaut Lisa Nowak, NASA has announced the committee members who will review the mental and other health services available to astronauts.
The committee, announced today, will review NASA’s current healthcare systems and medical policies, standards and certifications for astronauts. In April, committee members are scheduled to travel to the Johnson Space Center (JSC) in Houston to review documents and interview personnel, including astronauts, involved in the agency’s spaceflight program, NASA said.
Chairing the group of external experts will be Air Force Col. Richard E. Bachmann, who studies aerospace medicine and has provided medical support to people who work in extreme environments like that in space.
Nowak, a 43-year-old mother of three, was arrested on Feb. 5 after allegedly driving 900 miles from Houston to the Orlando airport, where police say she confronted and pepper-sprayed Air Force Capt. Colleen Shipman, girlfriend of space shuttle pilot William Oefelein, whom she viewed as a romantic rival for the astronaut’s affections.
Immediately following the incident, Nowak was charged with attempted first-degree murder, attempted kidnapping and three other criminal acts. The charges were later downgraded and Florida prosecutors have entered charges for kidnapping. Nowak’s lawyers have formally entered a not guilty plea and the trial is expected to begin on July 30.
Meanwhile, the space agency removed Nowak’s flight status and in collaboration with the U.S. Navy, they ousted her from NASA’s astronaut corps. The seeming “breakdown” of an astronaut also spurred the space agency to look into how they screen astronauts for both mental and physical health as well as services available to astronauts during their careers.
The other external members of the newly-formed committee include:
Ellen Baker, a current NASA astronaut physician, will serve as a consultant to the team. Also, serving as “ex officio” members will be James M. Duncan, the NASA chief of Space Medicine at JSC, and Wayne Frazier of NASA's Office of Safety and Mission Assurance.
In June, the committee is expected to report their findings to Richard S. Williams, NASA’s chief health and medical officer, who will look over the review and report the findings to NASA Administrator Michael Griffin.