Published: Thu, November 22, 2018
Science | By Michele Flores

NASA to review workplace safety culture at SpaceX, Boeing

NASA to review workplace safety culture at SpaceX, Boeing

Three officials familiar with the probe told the Post it was prompted by Elon Musk's behaviour on the "Joe Rogan Experience" podcast, in which he smoked weed and sipped whisky.

According to a report in the Washington Post, the stuffy, suit-wearing types at the National Aeronautics and Space Administration were less-than-pleased about Mr. Musk's extracurricular activities.

NASA is planning to review the workplace safety culture at SpaceX and Boeing Co, as the two companies gear up to fly astronauts to the International Space Station.

Jim Bridenstine, NASA's Administrator, told the news outlet that the goal is to make sure the public has trust in the agency's spaceflight program, especially in light of them getting closer to the return of crewed flights from USA soil.

'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, ' said Nasa administrator Jim Bridenstine. NASA's Office of Safety and Mission Assurance will lead the probe, which the space agency's associate administrator William Gerstenmaier has said will be "pretty invasive".

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The Washington Post reports that NASA, which signed a $3.6 billion contract with SpaceX to develop rockets capable of transporting American astronauts to the International Space Station, will conduct an exhaustive review of the company's culture to ensure that everything is above board.

Aerospace giant Boeing also holds a NASA commercial-crew contract, which it seeks to fulfill using the CST-100 Starliner capsule. SpaceX experienced a setback after its craft's parachute system failed, and Boeing has failed a number of safety tests - not to mention its recent data leak.

'We fully expect our commercial partners to meet all workplace safety requirements in the execution of our missions, ' said NASA in a statement.

SpaceX added that it "actively promotes workplace safety, and we are confident that our comprehensive drug-free workforce and workplace programs exceed all applicable contractual requirements". "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", Boeing told the Post in a statement. So far it has launched 18 times - tying its record from past year - and says it is getting close to launching NASA's astronauts.

The assessment won't focus on technical details, but issues including drug policies, leadership and management style, and how many hours employees work. The company's Crewed Flight Test, carrying NASA astronauts Eric Boe and Nicole Aunapu Mann along with Chris Ferguson, a Boeing test pilot and former NASA astronaut, is scheduled for August.

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