NASA has ordered an exhaustive safety review of Hawthorne-based SpaceX and Boeing, the two companies it has contracted with to fly astronauts to the International Space Station, possibly in response to recent behavior by SpaceX founder Elon Musk, it was reported Tuesday.
William Gerstenmaier, NASA’s associate administrator for human exploration, told The Washington Post the review will begin next year and examine “everything and anything that could impact safety.”
The paper, citing three unnamed sources with knowledge of the probe, reported the review was prompted by Musk, who appeared to be smoking marijuana and sipping whiskey during a recent podcast streamed online. NASA spokesman Bob Jacobs would not comment to the paper about the reason for the review, but said it will “ensure the companies are meeting NASA’s requirements for workplace safety, including the adherence to a drug-free environment.”
SpaceX issued a statement to the paper saying “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 company also insisted that it “actively promotes workplace safety, and we are confident that our comprehensive drug-free workforce and workplace programs exceed all applicable contractual requirements.”
Boeing also issued a statement, saying the company “ensures the integrity, safety and quality of our products, our people and their work environment. 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.”
NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine, in an interview with The Post, said the agency wants to ensure public confidence in the space program.
“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 paper. “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 added that he has “a lot of confidence in the SpaceX team,” but told The Post “culture and leadership start at the top. Anything that would result in some questioning the culture of safety, we need to fix immediately.”
— City News Service