Cocaine found at Kennedy Space Center

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Thursday, January 14, 2010

A launch of the Discovery in May 2008.

On Thursday, NASA officials confirmed that a small plastic bag of cocaine was found two days before in a secure space shuttle processing facility within the Kennedy Space Center located in Merritt Island, Florida.

An employee found the bag in Orbiter Processing Facility #3, where the Discovery is being prepared for a March launch to deliver supplies to the International Space Station. The man immediately notified security, and local police were soon called to the scene. From there, the bag's contents were tested, and the results came back positive for cocaine.

The center's director, Robert Cabana, assured the press that neither the Discovery nor the hangar in which it is being housed was compromised by the presence of the illegal drug. He went on to affirm that neither he nor his agency condone the use of any controlled substance by any employee while they are on the job, and that whoever is responsible will be fired and then prosecuted for the offenses.

Furthermore, Cabana stated that besides probing the criminal nature of what occurred, NASA will also conduct a full review of recent work performed on the Discovery as to make sure that there were not any other potential problems with the shuttle that investigators may have missed the first time.

Although a drug test was performed on each of the facility's over two-hundred workers before they left Wednesday, "There was nothing obvious," said the center's public relations spokesman, Allard Beutel.

He goes on to say, "Nobody was obviously under the influence when they were working, because we have supervisors there, security in there. It wasn't obvious somebody was under the influence of this substance, or any other, for that matter."

Senator Bill Nelson, a former astronaut himself, says he is confident that the guilty party will be found, brought to justice, and then sent "out the door."

Beutel concluded his statement by reaffirming NASA's "zero-tolerance" policy for controlled substances, "People know how serious this is, and how serious[sic] people take it," Beutel said. "And it's not acceptable. That's the bottom line."