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NASA pays for $5M safety review at SpaceX following Elon Musk pot video

Daniella Genovese

Elon Musk's SpaceX recieved a $5 million reimbursment for a comprehensive safety review, according to Politico, while Boeing was offered nothing to cover the same evaluation.

NASA ordered the assessment of the two companies hired to fly astronauts to the International Space Station after SpaceX chief Elon Musk was seen publicly smoking marijuana and drinking alchol on “The Joe Rogan Experience" podcast in 2018, according to The Washington Post, which cited sources it didn't identify.

While cannabis use has become more widely accepted than ever before, especially within the 11 states where it is legal for recreational use, the move spawned investor fears and was accompanied by headlines such as "Tesla Shaken by a Departure and What Elon Musk Was Smoking" from The New York Times, and “Analysis: Elon Musk is hurting Tesla with his bizarre behavior,” from CNN Money.

Following Musk’s stunt, NASA administrator Jim Bridenstine reiterated that he didn't want NASA contactors engaging in such bahaviour.

“That was not helpful, and that did not inspire confidence, and the leaders of these organizations need to take that as an example of what to do when you lead an organization that’s going to launch American astronauts,” Bridenstine told The Atlantic.

Musk "is as committed to safety as anybody, and he understands that that was not appropriate behavior, and you won’t be seeing that again,” Bridenstine added.

The review examined “everything and anything that could impact safety” while both companies prepare to fly people into space, William Gerstenmaier, NASA’s associate administrator for human exploration, told the Post. It included educating employees as well as ensuring they are following strict guidelines that bar illegal drug use by government contractors.

Marijuana use is still banned by federal law, despite its legalization by some American states and cities.

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"There is nothing more important to SpaceX than this endeavor, and we take seriously the responsibility that NASA has entrusted in us to safely and reliably carry American astronauts to and from the International Space Station," SpaceX said after the review was announced. The company expressed confidence that its "comprehensive drug-free workforce and workplace programs exceed all applicable contractual requirements."

NASA and Boeing didn't immediately respond to requests for comment from FOX Business.

SpaceX and Boeing each received government contracts in 2014 to develop a spacecraft capable of ferrying U.S. astronauts to the space station. While SpaceX initially set a 2017 target date for completion, the firm has yet to deliver a final version of its “Crew Dragon” vessel.

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FOX Business’ Thomas Barrabi contributed to this report.

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