“When somebody tests positive for COVID here at the Kennedy Space Center and across NASA, it is our policy for that person to quarantine and self-isolate, so we anticipate that that will be taking place,” NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine said during a news conference today when asked about tweets in which Musk
. Bridenstine said he had talked to Musk two days ago, before the testing issue arose. said he had received both positive and negative tests
Live updates: SpaceX’s Crew-1 astronaut launch for NASA Related: NASA urges COVID caution for spectators of SpaceX Crew-1 launch
“We’re looking to SpaceX to do any contact-tracing that is appropriate,” Bridenstine said. “Of course if there are changes that need to be made, we will look at those. But it’s very early right now to know if any changes are necessary at this point.”
Bridenstine emphasized that he is unaware of any contact between Musk and the four astronauts scheduled to ride
. NASA astronauts Mike Hopkins, Victor Glover and Shannon Walker and Japanese astronaut Soichi Noguchi are scheduled to remain in space for six and a half months, living and working on the Crew-1 . International Space Station
When asked whether the launch would be delayed if any contact between Musk and crewmembers was identified, Bridenstine declined to say. According to Steve Stich, program manager for NASA’s Commercial Crew Program, speaking on Oct. 28, the crew entered “soft quarantine,” when they could still remain at home with family, the weekend of Oct. 24 and Oct. 25 and was scheduled to enter a more stringent quarantine on Oct. 31.
Related: SpaceX’s Crew-1 astronaut mission in photos
NASA astronauts Shannon Walker, Victor Glover and Mike Hopkins and Japanese astronaut Soichi Noguchi visit their Crew-1 SpaceX Crew Dragon capsule, dubbed “Resilience,” on Nov. 9, 2020. (Image credit: NASA/Joel Kowsky)
“There’s a lot to learn,” he said. “Our astronauts have been in quarantine for weeks, and they should not have had contact with anybody. They should be in good shape.”
When SpaceX’s first crewed flight for NASA, dubbed
, first attempted launch on May 27, Musk visited NASA astronauts Doug Hurley and Bob Behnken with Bridenstine after the spaceflyers donned their suits and before they headed to the launch pad. Musk and Bridenstine wore masks and stood at a distance from the astronauts guided by a cordon. That launch was scrubbed due to weather; Musk did not visit them before their successful launch on May 30, although Demo-2 (as were with others) in the launch control center at Kennedy Space Center. he was seen maskless
Whether Musk now has COVID-19 is unclear.
“Was tested for covid four times today,” Elon Musk
posted in the wee hours today. “Two tests came back negative, two came back positive. Same machine, same test, same nurse. Rapid antigen test from BD.” wrote in a tweet
In his tweet, Musk also wrote that the results indicated “something extremely bogus,” but no diagnostic test, especially no rapid test, is perfect. Every testing method for every infection will produce a certain number of false positive and false negative detections: some number of positive tests when there is no infection and negative results when there is infection.
For the specific test Musk used, false positives are more likely when COVID-19 infection rates are low and false negatives are more likely when disease rates are high, according to
published by the Food and Drug Administration. That document also notes that the test is less reliable at detecting infections when a sample is taken more than five days into the illness. materials about the test
, Musk wrote that he has had “Mild sniffles & cough & slight fever past few days,” and separate tweets , so it isn’t clear how far into the infection he would have been when the tested samples were gathered. In general, people begin showing symptoms about five days after exposure and are infectious for a day or two before showing symptoms. no symptoms beyond those typical of a cold
SpaceX CEO Elon Musk speaks with NASA personnel after the successful launch of Demo-2 on May 30, 2020, in the Launch Control Center at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center. (Image credit: NASA/Joel Kowsky)
Musk also wrote that he is
as well but does not yet have those results. Although a polymerase chain reaction test is typically more accurate, it will still produce getting PCR diagnostic tests and more rarely, false positives. false negatives
Testing is a public health tool,
; results are vital in not a certificate of personal safety of a local outbreak. But the individual response to a negative test varies. “If a person has not had any known exposure to COVID-19 and is not experiencing symptoms, there is no need to quarantine if a test is negative,” according to helping officials grasp the status . “If symptoms are present but a person has a negative COVID-19 test, that person should still follow home isolation recommendations.” Isolation recommendations currently call for staying at home for 10 days with no contact with the outside world, experts at the Johns Hopkins University School of Public Health . according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
As of publication, SpaceX did not respond to a request for comment about Musk’s current location, existing safety measures and any potential impacts to the launch.
You can watch SpaceX’s Crew-1 launch for NASA
live here at Space.com on Saturday beginning at 3:30 p.m. EST (1930 GMT).
Email Meghan Bartels at email@example.com or follow her on Twitter @meghanbartels. Follow us on Twitter @Spacedotcom and on Facebook.