Published: Thu, November 22, 2018
Sci-tech | By Spencer Schmidt

NASA starts SpaceX safety probe after Musk concerns

NASA starts SpaceX safety probe after Musk concerns

Now, Nasa says it will review the workplace safety culture at two companies, including Musk's SpaceX, that were chosen to fly astronauts.

While officials declined to comment on the exact reasons for the investigation, a NASA spokesperson said the probe would "ensure the companies are meeting NASA's requirements for workplace safety, including the adherence to a drug-free environment".

Three NASA officials told the Post that it was prompted by Elon Musk smoking weed and drinking whisky on the "Joe Rogan Experience" podcast in September.

NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstein said the review is to ensure that the public is confident in the program, which is set to launch flights 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 said.

SpaceX, which has a $2.6 billion contract to carry NASA astronauts on future missions, issued a statement saying that "we take seriously the responsibility that NASA has entrusted in us to safely and reliably carry American astronauts to and from the International Space Station".

Bridenstein added, "Culture and leadership start at the top. Anything that would result in some questioning the culture of safety, we need to fix immediately".

In a November 21 statement, NASA said the Falcon 9 launch of the Crew Dragon spacecraft on a mission designated Demo-1 is scheduled for January 7 from Kennedy Space Center's Launch Complex 39A, the former Apollo and shuttle pad that SpaceX has renovated to support launches of its Falcon 9 and Falcon Heavy vehicles, in particular crewed Falcon 9 missions.

"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".

The review comes after a tumultuous time for Musk, whose behavior led to a series of scandals. For years, our engineers have worked side-by-side with NASA, creating a strong partnership and guiding the development of Crew Dragon - one of the safest, most-advanced human spaceflight systems ever built.

If all goes well, SpaceX will be able to send astronauts to the International Space Station. 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.

NASA revealed the nine astronauts that will take to space aboard the Boeing CST-100 Starliner and SpaceX Crew Dragon earlier this year.

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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