Neil deGrasse Tyson Reminds Us Why Smoking Weed in Space Is a Bad Idea
By Brandon Specktor 17 September 2018
All astronauts get high — about 240 miles (385 kilometers) higher than the planet’s surface, if they’re working aboard the International Space Station.
But no astronauts get stoned … at least, they’re not supposed to. There are plenty of good reasons for that. Practically speaking, sparking up a fire in the oxygen-rich environment of a space station could result in hungry balls of flame spreading in every direction that there’s fuel to burn. (Scientists and stoners can agree: That’s a serious buzzkill.)
But spontaneous combustion aside, there are other health risks associated with getting high in a demanding microgravity environment — reasons that Neil deGrasse Tyson, the most famous mustache in astrophysics, recently explained in an interview with a tabloid reporter who asked what it would be like to smoke weed in space.
“The problem is, in space now, many things will kill you,” Tyson told TMZ reporters in an interview. “So, if you do anything to alter your understanding of what is reality, that’s not in the interest of your health. If you want to get high in space, lock yourself in your cabin, and don’t come out. ‘Cause you could break stuff inadvertently.”
NASA, for one, has taken the risk of weed-induced “breaking stuff” seriously for several decades. Thanks to an executive order signed by then-President Ronald Reagan, NASA has been a drug-free workplace since 1986, meaning all employees are forbidden from using recreational drugs whether on or off duty. In addition to receiving pre-employment drug screenings for traces of marijuana, cocaine, amphetamines and various other illegal substances, astronauts undergo periodic random drug screenings to satisfy federal regulations and make sure they still have the proverbial right stuff.
The topic came up after the reporter asked Tyson his thoughts about billionaire space entrepreneur Elon Musk taking a hit of weed during a recorded interview with TV personality and podcast host Joe Rogan. Musk, whose spaceflight company SpaceX contracts with the U.S. Air Force, is reportedly being investigated by Air Force officials for his use of the drug.
“Let the man get high if he wants to get high,” Tyson told TMZ. “He’s the best thing we’ve had since Thomas Edison.”
A friendly reminder from Neil deGrasse Tyson: Smoking weed in outer space is a great way to die of stupidity.
Why Astronauts Can’t Get High in Space вЂ” Yet
If youвЂ™re an entrepreneur who loves thinking about space, smoking weed, and thinking about space while smoking weed, thereвЂ™s a huge market waiting to be tapped into. With talks of space tourism more common than ever, future passengers will be definitely be looking to fulfill their vices on their journey to the moon, Mars, and beyond. Besides booze, the second-most obvious choice here is indulging in the devilвЂ™s lettuce.
For myriad reasons, astronauts canвЂ™t just blaze one in space вЂ” at least not now. The most obvious reason is the fact that lighting up runs the risk of creating a fire on board a spacecraft, which, if youвЂ™ve seen literally any sci-fi movie, you know does not end well.
But astronauts also always need to be on their toes because operating a spacecraft is dangerous and extremely complicated. They donвЂ™t have the luxury of ripping a bong and watching Planet Earth in their friendвЂ™s apartment вЂ” although they do get to watch the actual planet Earth from afar.
This brings up the question of edibles. Even if an astronaut was hankering for a weed brownie, they couldnвЂ™t have one for the same reason astronauts canвЂ™t eat bread on board the International Space Station (ISS). Crumbs can easily float and get into machinery, potentially damaging it.
The most famous incident analogous to this was when NASA pilot John Young smuggled a corned beef sandwich into space on March 23, 1965. Needless to say, the space agency wasnвЂ™t too thrilled about this. For this reason, NASA astronauts on board the ISS now eat tortillas instead of other kinds of bread.
So what other options are there? While thereвЂ™s definitely no peer-reviewed research on this, by process of elimination, maybe weed gummies or soft candy would work. Gummies donвЂ™t the risk of creating crumbs in microgravity. With the right manufacturer, the idea seems at least feasible in theory.
While astronauts arenвЂ™t going to be toking up on the ISS any time soon вЂ” or ever вЂ” tourists on private spacecraft could be getting high on their space vacations sooner than we think. Recently, a company called Orion Span announced its plans to launch a space hotel by 2021, with people occupying it as soon as 2022. Of course, the whole thing might never happen, but if it does, IвЂ™m sure its guests will be doing all kinds of stuff that NASA astronauts canвЂ™t.
So if youвЂ™ve got the time, energy, and passion to create astroweed gummies, hereвЂ™s a free idea. Go crazy with it.
Why Astronauts Can’t Get High in Space вЂ” Yet If youвЂ™re an entrepreneur who loves thinking about space, smoking weed, and thinking about space while smoking weed, thereвЂ™s a huge market