NASA has ordered a safety review of SpaceX and Boeing – the two companies it hired to fly its astronauts to the International Space Station – after hearing how Elon Musk smoked a joint on a Joe Rogan podcast streamed on the internet earlier this year.
That’s according to a report by the Washington Post, which cites three NASA officials with knowledge of the probe.
The sources confirmed that it is the recent behaviour of the SpaceX founder that triggered the investigation, which will “take a close look at the culture of the companies” and comprise of a months-long assessment and hundreds of interviews designed to evaluate the culture of the workplaces.
The officials said the probe would “ensure the companies are meeting NASA’s requirements for workplace safety, including the adherence to a drug-free environment”.
The review is said to begin next year and will a good look at both Boeing and SpaceX, examining “everything and anything that could impact safety” as the companies prepare to fly humans for the first time.
NASA Administrator, Jim Bridenstine, said that the agency wants to make sure the public has confidence in its human-spaceflight program, especially as the companies are getting closer to their first flights, scheduled for next year.
“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,” he told 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.”
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. The companies both have multi-billion dollar contracts to take astronauts to the ISS, and both haven’t proven the most trustworthy of late. SpaceX experienced a setback after its craft’s parachute system failed, and Boeing has failed a number of safety tests – not to mention its recent data leak.
Nevertheless, SpaceX plans to launch its craft by June 2019, while Boeing is aiming a little later, in August of the same year. µ
Source : Inquirer