Last year Elon Musk, lover of Harambe and non-unionized workforces, decided to light up a legal joint on air during the Joe Rogan podcast. And while his red pot-huffing face is a funny picture to use whenever posting about him, Musk’s partners at NASA weren’t thrilled about this kind of weed buffoonery being associated with space travel.
Along with publicly admonishing Musk, NASA launched a probe to determine if SpaceX had an acceptable culture to keep working with. And according to Politico, that probe wound up costing NASA five million dollars, taken from tax payers of course. Think of all the Teslas you could’ve bought with that money. Now what car are you going to play Cuphead in? Keep reading for more on the original incident.
NASA has reportedly ordered a safety review of two aerospace partners under contract to fly astronauts to the International Space Station.
The months-long assessment of Boeing and SpaceX will begin next year, and examine “everything and anything that could impact safety,” NASA told The Washington Post.
The review was prompted by SpaceX CEO Elon Musk’s recent appearance on a live podcast recording with comedian Joe Rogan.
Between doing a Neil deGrasse Tyson impression and quizzing the Tesla and SpaceX chief on the future of automobiles, Rogan handed the entrepreneur a blunt filled with tobacco and marijuana.
Musk’s single hit (legal in California, where the podcast was recorded) became the controversy heard round the nation.
Following the live broadcast in September, Tesla shares fell more than six percent, and the company’s accounting lead resigned after a month on the job.
There was even speculation of a U.S. Air Force investigation, considering SpaceX holds contracts with the military branch and has access to classified information about government satellites.
But while the Air Force does not appear to be taking action, NASA is.
“We are excited to once again launch American astronauts on American rockets and spacecraft from American soil,” according to an agency statement emailed to Geek. “We are focused on safe and successful commercial crew missions to the International Space Station.”
“In the coming months, prior to the crew test flights of Crew Dragon and Starliner, NASA will be conducting a cultural assessment study in coordination with our commercial partners to ensure the companies are meeting NASA’s requirements for workplace safety, including the adherence to a drug-free environment,” it continued. “We fully expect our commercial partners to meet all workplace safety requirements in the execution of our missions and the services they provide the American people. As always, NASA will ensure they do so.”
As others have pointed out, Musk likely has security clearance—a privilege that prohibits the use of cannabis.
“As an agency we’re not just leading ourselves, but our contractors, as well,” NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine said in an interview with the Post. “We need to show the American public that when we put an astronaut on a rocket, they’ll be safe.”
Bridenstine has “a lot of confidence in the SpaceX team”: After all, its workhorse Falcon 9 rocket recently received “Category 3” clearance to launch NASA’s most expensive and highest-priority science missions.
But he also knows that “culture and leadership start at the top.”
“Anything that would result in some questioning the culture of safety, we need to fix immediately,” he added.
SpaceX, meanwhile, reiterated in a statement to the newspaper that “human spaceflight is the core mission of our company.”
“There is nothing more important to SpaceX than this endeavor, and 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,” the firm said.
“SpaceX actively promotes workplace safety and we are confident that our comprehensive drug-free workforce and workplace programs exceed all applicable contractual requirements,” it continued. “We couldn’t be more proud of all that we have already accomplished together with NASA, and we look forward to returning human spaceflight capabilities to the United States for the first time since the Space Shuttle program retired in 2011.”
Still, this isn’t exactly the best time for Musk.
The former Tesla chairman recently agreed to pay a $20 million fine as part of a settlement with the Securities and Exchange Commission.
And don’t forget the defamation lawsuit filed against him by a rescue volunteer working to save children caught in a Thai cave, who Musk called a “pedo” and “child rapist.”
The “pretty invasive” review, according to NASA Associate Administrator for Human Exploration William Gerstenmaier, will be led by the agency’s Office of Safety and Mission Assurance.
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Editor’s note: This article was updated on Nov. 21 with comment from NASA and SpaceX.
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