SpaceX CEO Elon Musk tests positive and negative for COVID-19 ahead of Crew 1 launch, awaiting lab results

NASA Administrator says policy would require Musk to quarantine, not attend launch

KENNEDY SPACE CENTER, Fla. – It’s very unlikely Elon Musk will be at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center Sunday when his company SpaceX launches four astronauts for NASA to the International Space Station after he received several positive and negative COVID-19 tests.

The billionaire tweeted Thursday he took four rapid antigen tests for the virus, two came back negative and two came back positive.

‘Something extremely bogus is going on. Was tested for covid four times today," Musk wrote. “Two tests came back negative, two came back positive. Same machine, same test, same nurse. Rapid antigen test from BD.”

[MORE COVERAGE: How to follow live coverage as SpaceX prepares to launch Crew-1 mission | 14 weather conditions that would prevent SpaceX from launching Crew Dragon]

The rapid antigen are inexpensive and can provide results in about 15 minutes, however, they are not as sensitive as the PCR tests administered in medical settings.

The CEO says he is experiencing minor cold-like symptoms. Musk, who has been vocal about downplaying coronavirus, said he is now awaiting PCR results from separate laboratories which will take about 24 hours.

NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine addresses Musk’s possible COVID-19 diagnosis on Friday, the day before SpaceX was set to launch NASA astronauts Mike Hopkins, Victor Glover and Shannon Walker, along with Japanese Space Agency astronaut Soichi Noguchi in the Dragon spacecraft atop a Falcon 9 rocket from Kennedy Space Center. The launch was later delayed to Sunday due to weather.

“I’ll tell you when somebody test 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,” Bridenstine said, adding he expects SpaceX to do any contact tracing.

The administrator said he was not aware of Musk having any contact with the astronauts or launch teams but the astronauts have been in quarantine for two weeks.

Bridenstine said it was too early to determine if any changes on launch day would need to be made.

“Of course if if there are changes that need to be made, we will we will look at those,” Bridenstine said. “But it’s very early right now to know if any changes are necessary at this point. We just don’t know.”

When SpaceX launched astronauts for the first time in May, Brevard County-- home to the space center-- had 420 total cases, since then that number has grown to more than 13,100, including 400 dead. On May 30, when NASA astronauts Bob Behnken and Doug Hurley launched from KSC Florida reported 927 cases that day, on Thursday the department of health reported 5,607 new cases.

Florida had 55,424 coronavirus cases at the end of May, now the state has reported more than 860,000.

Kennedy Space Center closed to most workers in March when the virus first began showing up in Florida. Most employees have been working from home since then.

While KSC staff have tested positive, Bridenstine said they were not exposed at work.

“People aren’t getting it here, they’re getting other places, because of the protocols Bob has put in place, and the adherence,” he said speaking of KSC director Bob Cabana. “The great workforce here at Kennedy. The adherence to those protocols, social distancing mask wearing. If you don’t need to come to work. If you can do your work from home do it from home. These are the protocols that we put in place here at Kennedy.”

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