NASA, Unamused by Elon Musk's Pot Smoking, To Review SpaceX Contract

Rodiano Bonacci
Novembre 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.

Yet the space agency is undertaking a workplace safety review of Elon Musk's firm SpaceX - reportedly in response to the capricious entrepreneur's decision last summer to smoke pot and drink whiskey on a podcast that was streamed on the Internet and captured in a YouTube video.

"If I see something that's inappropriate, the key concern to me is what is the culture that led to that inappropriateness and is NASA involved in that", NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine said in an interview with the Post.

'As an agency we're not just leading ourselves, but our contractors, as well. "We need to show the American public that when we put an astronaut on a rocket, they'll be safe", he said.

In a statement responding to the announcement of the review, SpaceX said: "Human spaceflight is the core mission of our company".

Boeing said in an emailed statement that it was committed to mission success as NASA's partner, while ensuring the integrity, safety and quality of its products, its people and their work environment.

'We are confident that our comprehensive drug-free workforce and workplace programs exceed all applicable contractual requirements, ' SpaceX said in a statement sent to Reuters. Musk shared some of his. distinctive wisdom on technology and the future, letting viewers know that people on social media "look like they have a much better life than they really do", that we all probably live in a computer simulation and that we will one day be assimilated by an artificial intelligence system.

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 USA soil.

He added that the "companies are responsible".

SpaceX, founded by Musk, signed a $2.6 billion contract with NASA in 2014 to shuttle its astronauts as part of the Commercial Crew Program.

The review comes as the companies are working toward flying crewed missions from USA soil for the first time since the space shuttle was retired seven years ago.

It's not surprising NASA is launching such a probe, as there's a lot riding on the deal it has with SpaceX and Boeing. Between the two flights, Boeing will perform a pad abort test. "Clearly crew can not be risked without complete confidence in the parachute design", the panel found.

SpaceX is planning to launch an uncrewed Crew Dragon to the space station by as early as next January, and if no further technical or logistical delays are encountered, that flight seem likely to go ahead even if the safety review isn't completed by that time. SpaceX said it has made real progress in the development of the version of its Dragon spacecraft that is created to fly humans. The company's Crewed Flight Test, carrying NASA astronauts Eric Boe and Nicole Aunapu Mann along with Chris Ferguson, a Boeing test pilot and former NASA astronaut, is scheduled for August.

The most recent Soyuz crew launch toward the ISS, on October 11, had to be aborted after the rocket experienced problems about 2 minutes into flight.

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