NASA will conduct a safety review of Boeing and SpaceX, months after the latter company's founder and CEO Elon Musk smoked marijuana during a videotaped podcast, according to the Washington Post on Tuesday.
The agency's review of the companies will begin next year, the report says. Musk's pot-smoking upset high level NASA officials, the Post reported, causing the agency to take a look at SpaceX. The U.S. Air Force also began looking into Musk's marijuana smoking shortly after the incident.
While NASA officials reportedly focused on Musk's behavior, Boeing – SpaceX's competitor under NASA's Commercial Crew program – is also under review.
"We are focused on safe and successful commercial crew missions to the International Space Station. In the coming months, prior to the crew test flights of Crew Dragon and Starliner, NASA will be conducting a cultural assessment study in coordination with our commercial partners to ensure the companies are meeting NASA's requirements for workplace safety, including the adherence to a drug-free environment," NASA said in a statement to CNBC.
NASA's Commercial Crew program is part of the agency's plan to once again launch U.S. astronauts from U.S. soil. Since the end of the Space Shuttle program in 2011, astronauts have flown aboard Russian Soyuz — at a cost to NASA of more than $70 million per seat. The Commercial Crew program is competitive, with contracts up for grabs for SpaceX to win with its Dragon capsules and Boeing with its Starliner capsules.
NASA associate administrator William Gerstenmaier told the Post that the review process will be "pretty invasive." The agency will take a look at "everything and anything that could impact safety," Gerstenmaier said. NASA plans to interview hundreds of Boeing and SpaceX employees, according to Gerstenmaier, at all levels of authority.
Top NASA official Jim Bridenstine said in the report that he has "a lot of confidence in the SpaceX team."
"Culture and leadership start at the top," Bridenstine told the Post. "Anything that would result in some questioning the culture of safety, we need to fix immediately."
SpaceX said in a statement to CNBC that flying humans in space "is the core mission" of Musk's company.