NASA orders safety review of SpaceX after Elon Musk's joint-smoking

Pat Wise
November 22, 2018

NASA is ordering a review of the workplace cultures of SpaceX and Boeing, two companies working with the agency to fly astronauts to the International Space Station, according to a report Tuesday by The Washington Post.

It comes just months after SpaceX boss Elon Musk faced backlash for smoking what appeared to be marijuana during a live podcast hosted by Joe Rogan.

Jim Bridenstine, NASA's Administrator, told the news outlet that the goal is to make sure the public has trust in the agency's spaceflight program, especially in light of them getting closer to the return of crewed flights from US soil. NASA's Office of Safety and Mission Assurance will lead the probe, which the space agency's associate administrator William Gerstenmaier has said will be "pretty invasive".

'We need to show the American public that when we put an astronaut on a rocket, they'll be safe'.

While a NASA spokesperson declined to comment, NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine told the Washington Post is hoping to secure the public's confidence ahead of the upcoming crewed launches. "Anything that would result in some questioning the culture of safety, we need to fix immediately".

'We fully expect our commercial partners to meet all workplace safety requirements in the execution of our missions, ' said NASA in a statement.

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NASA's probe will focus specifically on company safety culture, including drug policies, employee work hours, any existing safety concerns among workers, and more. "As NASA's trusted partner since the beginning of human spaceflight, we share the same values and are committed to continuing our legacy of trust, openness and mission success", Boeing told the Post in a statement.

Space-X's Falcon 9 rocket with 10 satellites launches at Vandenberg Air Force Base, California, Jan. 14, 2017.

These launches also allowed for the construction of the International Space Station - the largest structure in space, that's now home to a revolving crew of astronauts from all around the world, conducting important experiments that continue to advance our knowledge of the cosmos. It also noted progress on the part of both companies.

In an advisory sent to media Wednesday, NASA confirmed that SpaceX is targeting January 7, 2019 to test its Falcon 9 rocket and Crew Dragon spacecraft that will take astronauts to space next summer if current schedules hold. The first crewed test flight of the capsule, known as Demo-2, is now targeted for June 2019; an in-flight "abort test" that proves out Crew Dragon's emergency-escape systems will take place between the two demonstration missions, NASA officials said in today's update.

Boeing said it hadn't yet been formally notified of the assessment by NASA, and that the company maintains a drug- and alcohol-free workplace.

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