Drunken astronauts

Some people might be shocked by the notion of astronauts drinking a lot. I was too when I first heard of it.

I stayed at a bed and breakfast a few years ago which was started by a retired couple. The husband was retired from NASA. He was an engineer. He played a big role in helping Apollo XIII get back to the ground after it was damaged by an explosion. He later worked on Star Wars technology.

One evening when we were visiting, he just off-handedly mentioned how difficult it was to keep the astronauts sober. They were intense guys. They led exciting lives filled with risk. And they liked to drink, sometimes the night before launch.

Accustomed to thinking of astronauts as unblemished heroes, I was shocked. But then I remembered Buzz Aldrin, who was aboard the first moon landing. He later came to teach at UND when I was a student there. I think his troubles with alcohol had cost him a few higher profile jobs. And there were rumors at UND that he had lost his driver's license.

Imagine that. Buzz drove a spaceship, and later wasn't allowed to drive a car.