According to a new report on SpaceX’s safety review following Elon Musk hitting a blunt on Joe Rogan’s podcast, it may have been the most expensive blunt of all time!
Politico national security reporter Jacqueline Feldscher dug up some contracting records revealing that NASA ended up paying SpaceX $5 Million to conduct the review. While the review was widely publicized a year ago when it was first ordered, this is the first time it’s been reported that taxpayers got the bill for it.
Boeing, SpaceX’s rivals in NASA’s Commercial Crew Program to outsource trips to the space station so the agency can focus its time on more distant efforts like mars, were also forced to go through a review. Politico reported unlike SpaceX, Boeing did not get additional funds to cover the process.
The Washington Post reported last fall that the reviews would take months and involve hundreds of interviews that would dive into the workplace culture at SpaceX and Boeing.
NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine told the Post the whole point of the reviews was to assure public confidence in the two companies about to make their first test flights.
“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 said. “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.”
The National Security Institute’s quarterly publication Employee Security Connection is for the defense industry and government employees, and is distributed at NASA by the Office of the Chief Information Officer and the Office of Protective Services. This spring, in the wake of the Elon Musk uproar, it covered the impact of cannabis on security clearances for staff and contractors.
“Here’s the problem: In connection with SpaceX, Musk holds a security clearance. In the wake of his televised toking, an investigation was launched (pardon the pun) into whether he should retain that clearance,” the article said of Elon’s puff.
The NSI emphasized that federal agencies and defense contractors definitely weren’t treating marijuana like alcohol regardless of the number of states that have legalized or decriminalized. “This is true regardless of the amount of pot or the form in which it is ingested,” the article read.
The next part was a bit more interesting. With cannabis only being criminal in 15 states at the time of publishing, the article addressed whether the use of cannabis impacting someone’s security clearance could change in the future.
“Many experts say it will—but for now, marijuana use can still harm your chance at obtaining or retaining a security clearance,” the article read.
NASA, SpaceX, and Elon Musk
The NSI next noted that all marijuana use isn’t the same level of a red flag. Use that “happened so long ago, and so infrequently, that it does not cloud a candidate’s judgment or trustworthiness” isn’t the kind of thing that will prevent you from getting clearance. They mentioned guidelines specifically written so that candidates who can demonstrate measures they’ve taken to disassociate themselves from past drug use would not be ruled out.
Finally, when addressing cannabis questions these days, you’re likely to get some questions about CBD. They had that covered too. It’s in the exact same boat as pot with federal law, and would definitely impact someone’s chances of getting a security clearance.
SpaceX only has one more in-flight abort test to complete before the first Dragon test flight to the international space station with crew members on board.
We reached out to NASA and SpaceX for more details on the review.