NASA agreed to reimburse SpaceX $5 million for a workplace safety review after the aerospace company’s founder, Elon Musk, smoked weed on camera in 2018, POLITICO reported Wednesday citing contracting records.
That $5 million reportedly given to SpaceX, a federal contractor, to review workplace conduct came from taxpayer funds, according to POLITICO.
Joe Rogan, host of “The Joe Rogan Experience” podcast on which Musk, who has a security clearance, smoked weed in a September 2018 video episode that went viral, tweeted the news Thursday, saying, “I can’t believe this is real.”
“The silliest part about it is he took one puff of weed and barely inhaled. We were drinking whiskey for over an hour on air before this,” Rogan continued.
The silliest part about it is he took one puff of weed and barely inhaled. We were drinking whiskey for over an hour on air before this.
— Joe Rogan (@joerogan) October 17, 2019
Some space industry sources told POLITICO that the decision to reimburse SpaceX for the safety review, which included educating and interviewing SpaceX employees at all levels, was a highly unusual one.
Boeing, an aerospace company and SpaceX competitor, was required to conduct the same workplace safety review but reportedly did not receive extra money from NASA despite also being a federal contractor.
“As we understand it, NASA is moving forward with fulfilling the objectives of their safety assessment under our current contract, and we are prepared to help our customers meet those goals,” a Boeing spokesperson told the Daily Caller News Foundation in a statement.
“As a taxpayer, why would I pay when I don’t have to?” space strategist Pete Garrettson, a retired Air Force lieutenant colonel, told POLITICO. “If I was Boeing, I also would have said, ‘Why am I being punished without the same compensation?'”
Garrettson added, however, that Boeing’s Commercial Crew Program received $4.82 billion from NASA while SpaceX got $3.14 billion.
“The idea of NASA ever giving SpaceX preferential treatment over Boeing is simply giggle-inducing to industry insiders,” University of Southern California Assistant Professor Greg Autry, who served on President Donald Trump’s NASA transition team, told POLITICO.
“At every step of the way Boeing got more [money] in the [Commercial Crew Development] program. Far, far more than $5 million. Even discussing $5 million in this context is silly,” he continued. (RELATED: ‘I Am Certain’: Elon Musk Makes Another Prediction About The Future Of One Of His Companies)
NASA Associate Administrator for Human Exploration William Gerstenmaier said in a November 2018 interview with The Washington Post that the agency was launching the safety review of SpaceX in 2019. NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine said at the time “the key concern” to him is what kind of culture led to Musk’s behavior on “The Joe Rogan Experience” and “is NASA involved in that.”
“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,” Bridenstine said in 2018.
NASA and SpaceX did not immediately respond to the DCNF’s requests for comment.
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