Elon Musk, the Chief executive of SpaceX took four Covid-19 tests in one day, two of which were positive and two of which were negative. “Something extremely bogus is going on. Was tested for covid four times today. Two tests came back negative, two came back positive.
Same machine, same test, same nurse. Rapid antigen test from BD”, he tweeted. So even Elon Musk didn’t know whether he had COVID-19 or not but the news immediately drummed up concern about whether a diagnosis will impact SpaceX’s plans to launch astronauts on a mission to the International Space Station this weekend. Elon Musk was suffering from symptoms of a typical cold and he was getting ready to get a more reliable PCR test and the results should be revealed within 24 hours.
“It was NASA policy that anyone who tests positive must isolate and quarantine and it was unclear whether it would have any effect on the launch. Musk was not at the Kennedy Space Center here on Friday, though he was expected to be in the company’s control center for the launch on Saturday, as he has been for previous launches”, NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine said Friday morning. In a routine press briefing of NASA and SpaceX officials, at Kennedy Space Center said the contact tracing was largely complete, and they determined no one who is essential to this weekend’s mission was at risk of exposure to Covid-19.
NASA has already implemented stricter measures in response to Covid-19. For two weeks prior to launch, the astronauts have been in hard quarantine and they’re totally isolated and are unable to be in close proximity to anyone outside of the launch team, even their families. “ Musk Will not be allowed into NASA facilities on launch day. It’s restricted access. It doesn’t matter if you’re Elon Musk or Jim Bridenstine if any of NASA’s Covid-19 protocols have been compromised, then we’re not going to let you near the crew. And again, it’s to protect the overall mission”, said NASA’s deputy manager of flight operations Norm Knight.
So Elon Musk cannot attend the launch until he gets a COVID-19 negative result for himself. “ SpaceX’s mission control center in Hawthorne, California is abiding by strict health and safety rules. Employees who serve critical roles in the launch process have been taking tests, undergoing temperature screenings, and quarantining to assure their health ahead of this weekend’s mission.
We know that everybody’s very excited about launch and very excited about recovery and human spaceflight in general. We certainly do ask that everybody’s who’s involved, If you come out to watch the launch please wear your masks and follow social distancing guidelines. Do the right things there to keep everybody safe”, said SpaceX’s head of human spaceflight programs, Benji Reed. The original launch date was Saturday evening, it was delayed due to unfavorable weather conditions. The renewed launch date is Sunday at 7:27 pm ET.
Elon Musk expressed his disappointment in his tweet and something “extremely bogus” was going on, echoing months of earlier tweets in which Musk has expressed doubt about Covid-19’s threat. Medical professionals are also well aware that rapid antigen tests can be inaccurate and generate false negative results.