Space Odyssey: Elon Musk meets with NASA on SpaceX launch key to flying astronauts

By: | Published: December 7, 2018 8:09 AM

Elon Musk met with a high-level NASA official about an upcoming launch that’s key to SpaceX becoming the first company flying astronauts for the U.S. agency.

Elon Musk (File photo)

Elon Musk met with a high-level NASA official about an upcoming launch that’s key to SpaceX becoming the first company flying astronauts for the U.S. agency.

Musk met with Bill Gerstenmaier, NASA’s associate administrator for human exploration and operations, in Washington on Thursday. The two discussed SpaceX’s Demo-1 launch slated for January, NASA spokeswoman Megan Powers wrote in an email.

Musk’s Space Exploration Technologies Corp. and Boeing Co. have contracts to ferry American astronauts to the International Space Station as part of what’s known as the Commercial Crew program. The agency’s latest schedule has SpaceX’s first uncrewed demonstration flight on Jan. 7, and the first flight with astronauts on board in June, though timelines often slip.

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Representatives for SpaceX didn’t respond to request for comment on the meeting.

NASA said in an email last month that it would conduct a “cultural assessment study” with its commercial partners to ensure that they’re meeting the agency’s requirements for workplace safety, including “adherence to a drug-free environment.” The statement followed a Washington Post report that said NASA ordered a safety review of SpaceX and Boeing after Musk smoked marijuana during a podcast interview in September.

NASA awarded both companies a combined $6.8 billion in contracts in September 2014 to revive America’s ability to fly to the space station without buying seats on Russian Soyuz capsules.

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