NASA Investigating SpaceX After Elon Musk's Marijuana Reference

When Elon Musk  spoke to Stephen Colbert about colonizing Mars in 2014, it still sounded like a pipe dream. Now, four years later, SpaceX is at the forefront of re-usable, cost-effective rocket technology and may even beat NASA when it comes to bringing humans to the Red Planet. Though Musk’s dreams of a making humanity an interplanetary species didn’t come from a pipe, it seems like SpaceX’s most recent crisis has: NASA has announced that they’ll be conducting an intensive safety investigation into SpaceX and fellow contractor Boeing to ensure that both companies are promoting a “culture of safety”….and according the the Washington Post, the major trigger was Elon Musk’s recent joint-smoking episode on Joe Rogan’s podcast.

According to NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine: “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. 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.” Brindenstine also said that “culture and leadership start at the top. Anything that would result in some questioning the culture of safety, we need to fix immediately.”

According to the Post, both companies will undergo hundreds of interviews with employees at various levels, which will help NASA gauge whether those companies are truly capable of carrying out their upcoming manned spaceflights, which will be the first to launch from the United States since the retirement of NASA’s Space Shuttle program. Some of the areas the investigation will probe will be “the number of hours employees work, drug policies, leadership and management styles, [and] whether employees’ safety concerns are taken seriously”.

Apart from assuring themselves that SpaceX and Boeing are up to the task, NASA hopes that the investigations will ensure that the public has trust in them…though the real outlier here is definitely Musk, who’s been acting, uh, pretty erratic lately.

(cover photo: NASA/Joel Kowsky CC BY NC ND 2.0)

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