NASA on Elon Musk: ‘That was not appropriate behavior’ (space contractors community)


EXCERPT: If Elon Musk wants to launch American astronauts to space, he can’t smoke weed and drink whiskey on a podcast again. That’s a message from Jim Bridenstine, the NASA administrator, to the founder of SpaceX, which, along with Boeing, is developing transportation systems that would allow the United States to fly NASA astronauts from American soil for the first time since the space shuttle was retired in 2011.

[...] The warning comes about a week after The Washington Post broke the news that NASA would conduct reviews of workplace culture at both SpaceX and Boeing, reportedly in response to Musk’s actions on The Joe Rogan Experience in September. [...] Bridenstine said Thursday that he personally ordered the reviews.

He said his decision was influenced in part by several tragedies in NASA’s history. [...] “Every single one of those accidents had a number of complications. Of course, the technological piece was a big piece of it. [But] the other question that always comes up was, what was the culture of NASA?” he said. “What was the culture of our contractors, and were there people that were raising a red flag that we didn’t listen to, and ultimately did that culture contribute to the failure and, in those cases, to disaster?”

[...] Bridenstine said he has spoken with Musk recently. “We’ve had a number of conversations,” he said. “I will tell you, he is as committed to safety as anybody, and he understands that that was not appropriate behavior, and you won’t be seeing that again.”

But, Bridenstine said, he had wanted to conduct a review of workplace culture at SpaceX and Boeing even before Musk took a puff of marijuana [...] He described the assessments as a “necessary and appropriate step when you’re launching humans on rockets.”

[...] In the last decade, NASA has worked increasingly with commercial companies on various projects. The partnerships have created an unusual situation for the agency. Longtime NASA contractors [...] have been following the rules, including those about drug use, for decades. For NASA, managing a start-up with a young workforce and a famous CEO is a very new experience. The agency may need to rethink how it handles these newcomers, of which there will be many...

Joe Rogan has a tendency to encourage his guests to "let loose" and present a macho "common man" perspective on issues. I wouldn't fault Elon for succumbing to this. It was right for the moment, but it doesn't necessarily suggest any intemperance on the part of Elon.

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