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Space Science

What Drugs Do Astronauts Take? 132

Posted by Soulskill
from the just-boosterspice-for-me-thanks dept.
astroengine writes "Science fiction is stuffed full of examples of pill-popping space explorers and aliens enjoying psychedelic highs. After all, space is big; it can get boring/scary/crazy up there. It's little wonder, then, that our current space explorers consume a cocktail of uppers, downers, tranquilizers and alcohol to get the job done. Robert Lamb on tranquilizers in the space station: 'Sure, it hardly makes for a civilized evening aboard ISS, but it beats someone blowing the hatch because they think they saw something crawling on one of the solar panels.'"
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What Drugs Do Astronauts Take?

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  • ah duct tape.... (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Shakrai (717556) on Saturday December 05, 2009 @06:18AM (#30333822) Journal

    That ever useful tool. However would we have gone to the stars without it?

    Yes, according to a 2007 report from the Associated Press, astronauts keep a few tranqs on hand in case anyone goes all suicidal or psychotic in space. NASA recommends binding the individual's wrists and ankles with duct tape (ever the space traveler's friend!), strapping them down with a bungee cord and, if necessary, sticking them with a tranquilizer.

    Has any sci-fi show other than Firefly ever mentioned duct tape?

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by MichaelSmith (789609)

      That ever useful tool. However would we have gone to the stars without it?

      Yes, according to a 2007 report from the Associated Press, astronauts keep a few tranqs on hand in case anyone goes all suicidal or psychotic in space. NASA recommends binding the individual's wrists and ankles with duct tape (ever the space traveler's friend!), strapping them down with a bungee cord and, if necessary, sticking them with a tranquilizer.

      Has any sci-fi show other than Firefly ever mentioned duct tape?

      Dunno but I just watched a Mythbusters episode where Adam and Jamie built a sailing boat almost entirely out of the stuff and sailed it on SF Harbour.

      Subduing a crazy crewmember in a Gemini or an Apollo LM would certainly have been ...interesting.

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by Skal Tura (595728)

        Currently the only reason my car still goes forward is duct tape holding a crucial sensor in place .... Due to it being a hot place, every few weeks attach a bit more so it's tight and nice again...

        Oh and that works better than using the original attachment screws which fell out due to vibration ...

        Best of all: This car is being used for snow racing ...

        • Oh and that works better than using the original attachment screws which fell out due to vibration ...

          Might a bit of loctite on the screw threads make for a more permanent fix?

        • by piojo (995934)

          If it's not hot enough to melt the tape entirely, you could probably use JB Weld or a similar epoxy to glue the sensor on. I imagine that would be a lot safer than using duct tape.

          • by Skal Tura (595728)

            Nawh, i intend to replace the sensor with one which actually has holes for the screws on both sides, new screws and some loctite :)

            the hard part tho, is that it has to be really sensitively adjusted, and after adjustment, it's gonna be tricky to open screws to apply loctite

        • JB Weld or other sufficient epoxy.
    • by camperslo (704715)

      Has any sci-fi show other than Firefly ever mentioned duct tape?

      The Disney movie Skyrunners (DVD 2009) has a small/friendly spacecraft that gets repaired with duct tape

    • Dunno, but in Farscape Chrichton used WD-40 (another universal tool) on one of the DRDs
      • Re:ah duct tape.... (Score:5, Informative)

        by mrsurb (1484303) on Saturday December 05, 2009 @10:15AM (#30334636)
        If it's not supposed to move but does... use duct tape.
        If it is supposed to move but doesn't... use WD40.
        • Yeah, always liked that quote...
        • Re:ah duct tape.... (Score:5, Informative)

          by shiftless (410350) on Saturday December 05, 2009 @12:58PM (#30335926) Homepage

          If it is supposed to move but doesn't... use WD40.

          [pedant]

          WD40 is actually terrible for this job. It was originally invented to be sprayed on metal parts to prevent them from rusting, and it works well for that. It's not a good lubricant though nor does it penetrate corrosion very well. On moving parts it attracts and holds in dirt and "dries out" within a relatively short period, leaving the part binding/squeaking worse than before. For a rust penetrant, use something like PB Blaster or Sea Foam. For a lubricant, use oil or something designed specifically for that purpose.

          [/pedant]

      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by gyrogeerloose (849181)

        WD-40 is good stuff but for really stuck/rusty machinery, Zepreserve is better. No connection to Zep, Inc., I just work at a place that harvests and processes salt and so have to deal with a whole lot of rusty machinery.

    • by herojig (1625143)
      Looks like they use a lot of it in the making of the Tilt-O-Whirl shuttle craft in Explorers (1985 by Joe Dante).
    • Re:ah duct tape.... (Score:4, Interesting)

      by DerekLyons (302214) <fairwater@nosPam.gmail.com> on Saturday December 05, 2009 @11:26AM (#30335158) Homepage

      FWIW, when I was in the [USN] Submarine Service, we were prepared to do the same thing if a crew member went off the rails. (Though the doc had a couple of sets of soft restraints we'd use instead of tape.)
       
      That being said, we did use 'EB Green' (a tape that makes the useless crap falsely sold to John Q public as 'duct tape' look like tissue paper) for a wide variety of things.

    • by SvnLyrBrto (62138)

      > Has any sci-fi show other than Firefly ever mentioned duct tape?

      Apollo 13 featured duct tape prominently as part of the repair job for the LM's CO2 scrubber. Of course, that actually happened. So I don't know that it properly counts as sci-fi. But I've always assumed that at least *part* of that movie was played up beyond actual events for cinematic drama.

      Which episode of Firefly mentions duct tape? It's been a while since I've seen the show.

    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Ripley duct taped a flamethrower to an assault rifle in Aliens.

  • You ever... (Score:5, Funny)

    by turing_m (1030530) on Saturday December 05, 2009 @06:24AM (#30333860)

    You ever watch C beams glitter in the dark near the Tannhauser Gate... on weed?

    • You ever watch C beams glitter in the dark near the Tannhauser Gate... on weed?

      (crossing cyberpunk streams here)

      More like the Elders on Zion, orbiting near Straylight.

      • Re: (Score:1, Informative)

        by Anonymous Coward

        Hey mon, I see babylon.

      • by lennier (44736)

        Are you the Blue Fairy? This is the voice of World Control. We fight for the Users! Do not dissasemble! A strange game. The only way to win is not to play. Daisy, daisy. Bloop-bloot-blit-bloop! Oh dear. Eeee-va! All these moments will be lost in time, like tears in ... *beep* *click*

        BIOS POST SELF CHECK COMPLETE 64TB RAM FREE

        Bonnnnng! Hi! I'm your new HAL TermiNexus 6 Tachikoma! Please calibrate my sensors by responding to these questions! *giggle*

        Robots suck at death scenes.

  • by PolygamousRanchKid (1290638) on Saturday December 05, 2009 @06:31AM (#30333888)

    . . . the bong is busted. First the bog, and now the bong . . . hopefully the crack pipe will keep going . . .

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Sponge Bath (413667)

      High school kids fabricate bongs out of the oddest bits and pieces, often from what's available wherever they happen to be. I would hope our astronauts are at least as talented and resourceful.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by shiftless (410350)

      The only problem I can foresee with bongs in space: no gravity!

      • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

        by Anonymous Coward

        this actually makes me want to design a gravity independent water pipe specifically for space to ... um. ...determine the absorption and release of a variety of chemicals and their effect on human consciousness in space. perhaps we'll call it the Puff Independent Gravity Smoke System or PIGSS in Space.

      • The only problem I can foresee with bongs in space: no gravity!

        All that does is make the problem as difficult for the astronauts, now, as it was when they were in high school,

    • omg... bong water in all the equipment! Imagine the stink!
      We'll need to train tiny ants to get in there with little cleaning utensils.
  • Dude.... (Score:5, Funny)

    by Paxtez (948813) on Saturday December 05, 2009 @06:35AM (#30333898)

    I'm not sure what they take, but whatever they are, they are out of this world...

  • Oh wait, I just watched 2001 a few hours ago. And it was me that was on 'shrooms. What was the question again?
  • Your mother's an astronaut.
  • by WGFCrafty (1062506) on Saturday December 05, 2009 @06:54AM (#30333980)
    I'm sorry Dave, I can't do that.

    Please do try a diazepam or alprazolam Dave, they will surely calm you down.
  • If there's one thing I can do, man, is fly when I'm stoned
    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by Baron_Yam (643147)

      Yeah... I'm still not sure it counts as merely 'stoned' when the cumulative mass of the lines of coke you've just snorted is several times greater than that of your body.

      • by rts008 (812749)

        He did not mention coke.

        Nyborg...not coke...that's what's up, man.

        Did i mention 'whooosh!!' ?

        Hint: "Heavy Metal", circa 1982

      • by TubeSteak (669689)

        Yeah... I'm still not sure it counts as merely 'stoned' when the cumulative mass of the lines of coke you've just snorted is several times greater than that of your body.

        If you've snorted coke in quantities greater than your body mass... and are still alive... the odds are strong that your drugs have been deeply cut with laxative powder and you've actually shit all your internal organs into the toilet.

  • I remember reading this article nearly 3 years ago when it was first released.
  • by syousef (465911) on Saturday December 05, 2009 @07:07AM (#30334032) Journal

    ...for all the secret space sex experiments the NASA conspiracy nuts think are going on, and because they need to keep their bat servicable when they casually let it slip that they're an astronaut in all the bars around KSC.

  • by Average_Joe_Sixpack (534373) on Saturday December 05, 2009 @07:08AM (#30334040)

    Orange flavor

  • Blood of Christ? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by maggotbrain_777 (450700) on Saturday December 05, 2009 @07:10AM (#30334048) Homepage Journal
    Aldrin took communion on the moon? I had never heard that.
  • Obligatory (Score:5, Funny)

    by srussia (884021) on Saturday December 05, 2009 @07:16AM (#30334056)
    "Do they smoke grass out in space, Bowie? Or do they smoke astroturf?
  • They are high on life of course! I would never question something that my government put together!
  • Ok, so every single comment is a joke. Congratulations. Not that I can add anything of substance to such a Mooney topic. Just wondering.
  • Fox News ? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Saturday December 05, 2009 @07:51AM (#30334164)

    WTF is slashdot doing linking to an article from Fox News?
    It's bad enough linking to UK stories from the Daily Mail, but Faux News is taking the piss.

    .

  • by Anonymous Coward

    I know this 'coz once, my grandfather, who built space ships with us in our sofa when we were kids, found a marijuana syringe on the moon.

  • One drug is certain (Score:4, Informative)

    by JamesP (688957) on Saturday December 05, 2009 @08:05AM (#30334212)

    Antiemetics (that is, anti-throw-up / anti-motion-sickness)

    Not having gravity to "set things straight" can mess things up royally (in several ways)

  • by DynaSoar (714234) on Saturday December 05, 2009 @08:33AM (#30334296) Journal

    Perhaps it's my limited understanding of the word "do" at fault. I can only think of it in the present tense, rather than the future conditionals attached to such as "might". This leads me to have all kinds of misunderstandings, like wondering why they're taking pills to counteract a dust (!) that nobody's been closer than 230,000 miles to in the last 40 years. Or why the articles blathers on about zombies and CIA truth serum when talking about a sleeping/motion sickness pill that's been OTC for longer than NASA has been chartered. Or why NASA is having them take a "cocktail" to "get the job done" which would, if the description is accurate, prevent the job from getting done if not kill them (alcohol + uppers + downers + tranqs? Anyone remember Karen Ann Quinlan?). Quoting details from the equally unqualified and/or wrong doesn't dilute the article's idiocy. The content could have made a perfectly good article. Too bad the writer felt unequal to the job of writing a real article as you'd expect in a science magazine.

    This article should be in "Entertainment". Or, if we're to keep such trash under science, we should have some subclasses that apply, like 'bullshit', 'lies', and 'science? what's that?'. Or maybe we just need to change the "news for nerds, stuff that matters" to "stuff that might fit into the popular subjects here, and might be real, or not; we're not sure, we don't read it".

    Is this the result of voting on suitability of submissions? If so, maybe we ought to look into having editors that actually know something about the area they cover and approve articles based on content rather than side effects. It appears that ironically 'games' is getting more serious treatment than 'science'. Part of the problem is the 'science' articles being written, such as TFA. But the fix for that is the same fix for including decent science articles.

    • And here I was going to make a snide comment about FOX news, but you just went for all of media. Well played good sir, well played.
    • Besides, exactly what available drugs can enhance your ability to operate heavy machinery? I'm pretty sure anything with alcohol is out, and narcotics too. I can't think of anything stronger than what's in an energy drink, even those can be trouble if you're not careful.

      Just in case someone has a snit, I'm not saying anything here against the use of recreational drugs, but space is a special circumstance, first, they're probably on the job, second, you're dealing with living an few inches away from the fa

      • by nxtw (866177) on Saturday December 05, 2009 @11:08AM (#30334998)

        Besides, exactly what available drugs can enhance your ability to operate heavy machinery? I'm pretty sure anything with alcohol is out, and narcotics too. I can't think of anything stronger than what's in an energy drink, even those can be trouble if you're not careful.

        Stimulants or similar drugs; all the good ones are controlled substances. Specifically, the linked Discovery News article says the astronauts take modafinil [wikipedia.org], which is approved in the US for those with sleep disorders but useful for many other conditions as well. Modafinil can be used in many situations where ampetamine/methylphenidate and friends could be used instead, and typically with less side effects. Also, the Discovery News article mentions dexedrine [wikipedia.org]. Any of these drugs are likely to improve mental performance when used properly; although I must say it's unfair that astronauts get to use modafinil off-label when people know it can be effective for other conditions [law360.com].

        Caffeine is rather weak compared to these (scheduled) drugs, and has side effects of its own. Energy drinks might just create more problems - I've only used them a few times - and most of the time I felt worse afterwards. If I need to consume caffeine, I stick with pills (around a hundred times cheaper than energy drinks!) or coffee.

        When taken at the doses needed to be effective, caffeine has more side effects than any of the scheduled substances I've used. (I've been addicted to caffeine since high school.) Of course, caffeine is usually consumed in the form of beverages or cheap pills, not expensive pills with gradual release mechanisms that reduce the effects of a large initial dose and sharp drop-off.

        • by Muad'Dave (255648)

          If the want the cadillac of uppers,they'd be taking Adrenochrome [wikipedia.org], which requires the adrenal glands from living donors.

          Ok, not really.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by TempeTerra (83076)

        Besides, exactly what available drugs can enhance your ability to operate heavy machinery?

        No need to worry about that, once they're in orbit it's all weightless (although still massive).

    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by CaptDeuce (84529)
      Our fine Slashdot poster says,

      This article should be in "Entertainment".

      It is a light hearted article to be sure so let's not be "hasty" about making "claims" suggesting that is has no "reason" to be in a popular science "web site."

      Or why NASA is having them take a "cocktail" to "get the job done" which would, if the description is accurate, prevent the job from getting done if not kill them (alcohol + uppers + downers + tranqs? Anyone remember Karen Ann Quinlan?)

      More "sensationalism" in response to a light hearted "article". So let's be serious for a "momen..." er, moment.

      As noted by our fine poster, DynaSor (hey, I like that name [wikipedia.org]) must know, NASA prefers that astronauts refrain from using any drugs especially while performing critical activities such as launch, reentry,

      • by DynaSoar (714234)

        Your comment is well placed and noted that TFA was intended to be light hearted. I contend it was still written poorly enough that this wasn't obvious, still isn't, and I'm not sure I agree, but I'll buy your version for a dollar.

        Just to make sure my exchange currency was fixated at my labial-oral opening, I went immediately from my reply to volunteer as a science editor. They've made it so impossible to bother than at the /. desk, that I couldn't find a way to offer my services.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by drinkypoo (153816)

      Astronauts overwhelmingly have military backgrounds [spaceref.com]. The US Military has been using drugs well beyond the specifications allowed for "the rest of us" since forever. I guess what we need is a video game titled WWII Pilots: BENZEDRINE VS. METHEDRINE to really bring the point home to the pixels-and-keyboards crowd. The drug cocktail should surprise no one.

      • by DynaSoar (714234)

        Astronauts overwhelmingly have military backgrounds [spaceref.com]. The US Military has been using drugs well beyond the specifications allowed for "the rest of us" since forever. I guess what we need is a video game titled WWII Pilots: BENZEDRINE VS. METHEDRINE to really bring the point home to the pixels-and-keyboards crowd. The drug cocktail should surprise no one.

        Regardless of background, astronauts work for NASA and it calls the shots.

        In the military a few individuals in a few situations are given drugs that while increasing performance or some such, are not exotic but rather are common drugs with well know effects and side effects. You don't want the guy in the fox hole with you to decide his helmet is a saucepan, his claymore mine is a steak, and he's going to start a fire in the hole with you both and fix dinner. Of the few who are given such drugs, hardly any g

    • Re: (Score:1, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward

      The CIA has tried all sorts of drugs in the hope of finding a truth serum. And there are all sorts of medications that can fuck you up in many ways that you can get over the counter. Scopolamine can do it's job just fine providing you stay within the right dosage. If you take too much it can have other effects (like most drugs). The reason it's still OTC is because those effects are generally considered to be unpleasant and therefore abuse is low (you think it's about safety?). The only drug the article sai

  • Astronauts really know how to party, man.
  • Hmm (Score:2, Funny)

    by gaderael (1081429)

    Whatever they use, it sure as hell gets them High!

  • So I'm assuming that the belief that "the right stuff" is a mixture of courage, determination, and good old all-american grit, rather than a delightful assortment of "better living through chemistry" options is just one of those lies we tell to children...
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Obyron (615547)
      Kind of like how we tell our kids that all drugs are always unconditionally bad, unless they're handed out by mommy and daddy? This story is an interesting nexus of two things people lie to their kids about. If NASA were so full of American grit, they wouldn't have a problem getting Congress to get funding for (a return trip to the moon|an expedition to Mars|a space elevator).

      There is almost always more to the truth than what we tell our kids, because of our own moral hangups and personal inadequacies. T
  • Caffeine?
  • Wtf?? Was the author on "a cocktail of uppers, downers, tranquilizers and alcohol" to get the article done :-O?
  • Why not some spice?
  • I can't think of that many, not enough to back up this claim.
    • Dune (The spice, eh?)

      John Varley's series "Titan, Wizard, and Demon" mention cocaine and alcohol use rather extensively.

      "When Harlie was One" by David Gerrold describes many instances of marijuana use. Indeed, the book begins with the protagonist, an artificial intelligence named HARLIE, that has learned to make itself "high."

      Gene Wolf's Torturer series mentions ancient books in a library that after opening cause the reader to experience brightly colored visions. There are also numerous references to drugs

    • by conureman (748753)

      I think there's a market for Can-D.

  • Now I'm wondering how weed burns in a shuttle with no gravity and whether or not I can milk my roor like I can on earth...
  • This would also be good for people who live in cities and near highways. Diesel, even the low sulfur varieties spews a lot of particulates. Not to mention the tiny bits of rubber tire you inhale regulary.
  • No one gets higher than astronauts.

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