Updated 22 minutes ago
Sparking Potential Buyer Elona Muska on comedy webcast allegedly was not a joke for NASA that next year will launch an overview of SpaceX and Boeing Co.'s capability to build NASA astronaut capsules at the International Space Station.
Citing officials familiar with the issue, the Washington Post reported on Tuesday that the review was triggered by Muska, who in September saw smoking in marijuana and whispering a whiskey on a live webcast on YouTube.
NASA described the security review as a "cultural assessment study" to be carried out in coordination with SpaceX and Boeing to "ensure that companies meet NASA's workplace safety requirements, including non-drug-based compliance."
"We fully expect our commercial partners to meet all the security requirements in the workplace to carry out our missions and services to the American people," NASA said. "As always, NASA will ensure that they do it."
NASA spokeswoman refused to comment on the reasons behind the investigation behind that statement. William Gerstenmaier, NASA's administrative research associate for human resource research, told the agency that the agency's security review would be "pretty invasive" and include hundreds of interviews with employees in two companies and more jobs.
In 2014, SpaceX and Boeing were awarded NASA contracts for the construction of separate capsules to launch an astronaut to the space station. The capsules will replace the Russian missiles that the US bought from the space shuttle shuttle in 2011. SpaceX's contract is worth up to $ 2.6 billion, while Boeing is worth up to $ 4.2 billion.
Hawthorne-based SpaceX said in a statement that it seriously understood the responsibility of carrying NASA astronauts to the space station and that its engineers had been working with NASA for years to develop its astronaut capsule Crew Dragon.
"SpaceX has nothing more important than this effort," the company said. "SpaceX actively promotes workplace safety and we are confident that comprehensive workforce and drug-free work programs will exceed all applicable contractual requirements."
A spokeswoman with Boeing from Chicago said the company was aware of NASA's plan estimates, but has not yet received an official notice. The company said it was "committed to continue to inherit the trust, openness and success of the mission" with NASA.
"Boeing's culture ensures the integrity, safety and quality of our products, our people and their working environment," Boeing said in a statement.
SpaceX will first launch its Dragon Crew capsule for the first time in January, and Boeing plans to launch its Starliner capsule without a crew in March. Two companies need to launch capsules with astronauts on the next person.
"If I see something inappropriate, the key concern for me is the culture that has led to this inadequacy and is included in NASA," said NASA administrator Jim Bridenstine. "As an agency, we not only lead ourselves, but also our performers. We have to show the American public that when we set up an astronaut on the rocket, they will be safe."
Bridenstine said he had "a lot of confidence in the SpaceX team". But he added that "culture and leadership start at the top. All that would have resulted in some research of the culture of security, we need to fix it right away."
Musk has already faced the consequences of unconventional behavior. He has recently been replaced by chair of the publicly held Tesla Inc. following a deal with the Securities Commission and the Commission on fraud charges that followed after Musk tweeted about thinking about taking the company into privacy. Musk continues to serve as the CEO of Tesla.
Meanwhile, SpaceX continued to prepare for the first presentation of its astronaut capsules. Last month, SpaceX spent a static fire test on the Falcon 9 missile bushes that will launch a snatched capsule on its first demonstration flight. That same month, the company operated Naval Operation and Recovery Operations in the Atlantic Ocean with NASA and the Defense Department.
In August, NASA agreed, with SpaceX, to encourage its rocket before launching its crew on a ship, a very cautious proposal that had previously caused concern from legislators and some NASA Aerospace Safety Advisory Panel members. That panel later concluded that the fuel plan seemed a "viable option".
Boeing also checked the events. The company carried parachute tests for its capsule and practiced test runs inside the aircraft to ensure landing clearance. In July, Boeing stated that part of his astronaut test capsule suffered "anomalies" during a fire engine test. The company at the time said she was "convinced" that she had found the cause and that NASA helped carry out a "thorough" investigation.
However, launch dates for both companies continued to decrease. The United Kingdom's Office of Responsibility warned in July that certification of the capsules of each company could be delayed, which could lead to a gap in access to the space station for astronauts. The US agreement with Russia for astronaut transport extends only until November 2019.
NASA's security investigation could cause further delays, said Bill Ostrove, aviation and defense analyst at Forecast International. He said that it was not quite clear why Boeing would be involved in a security review if it was triggered by Musk's behavior.
"I can feel it better to be safer than to apologize and check everything," Ostrove said.
Engaging both companies means that the review is larger than "one executive director in one company," said John Logsdon, professor emeritus at George Washington University Space Policy Institute. He said the review was a reasonable entrepreneurship at this time in the program.
"I think NASA is undergoing a thorough assessment," he said.