Elon Musk Gleeful As Twitter Users Vote On Reinstating Trump

Elon Musk and a Twitter illustration

 

Elon Musk expressed excitement Saturday as he watched votes pour in on a Twitter poll he has posted on whether to readmit Donald Trump to the messaging platform.

“Reinstate former President Trump,” the billionaire Twitter owner posted Friday, with a chance to vote either yes or no.

As of 2200 GMT Saturday, 51.8 percent of the more than 14 million responses were in favor of a return of the former president, who was banned from Twitter for his role in last year’s attack on the US Capitol by a mob of his followers seeking to overturn the results of the 2020 election.

Musk said the poll was drawing one million answers per hour.

“Fascinating to watch Twitter Trump poll!” Musk said Saturday morning in a blast of tweets from the controversial and hard-charging new owner of the one-to-many messaging platform.


READ ALSO: Trump’s Twitter Account Reappears After Musk Poll


There was no indication that the mercurial boss of Space-X and Tesla would adhere to the results of the ad hoc poll.

But on Friday, Musk also posted a Latin adage suggesting that the decision would be up to Twitter users: “Vox Populi, Vox Dei” (“The voice of the people is the voice of God”).

He has done similar polls in the past, asking followers last year if he should sell stock in his electric car company Tesla. Following that poll, he sold more than $1 billion in shares.

Trump, who reveled in using Twitter as a mouthpiece, was followed by more than 88 million users.

He has said he will not return to the popular platform but would instead remain on his own network, Truth Social, launched after he was banned from Twitter.

Appearing via video Saturday at a gathering of the Republican Jewish Coalition in Las Vegas, Trump said he welcomed Musk’s poll, and was a fan of the man himself, but appeared to reject any return.

“I do like him… you know, he’s a character and again, I like characters,” he said.

“He did put up a poll and it was very overwhelming… but I have something called… Truth Social.”

As to whether he would return to the platform, he said: “I don’t see it because I don’t see any reason for it.”

Musk, also the CEO of Tesla and SpaceX, has come under fire for radical changes at California-based Twitter, which he bought less than a month ago for $44 billion.

Since then, he fired half of Twitter’s 7,500 staff, scrapped a work-from-home policy and imposed long hours, all while his attempts to overhaul the company faced backlash and delays.

His stumbling attempts to revamp user verification with a controversial subscription service led to a slew of fake accounts and pranks, and prompted major advertisers to step away from the platform.

On Friday, Musk appeared to be pressing on with his plans and reinstated previously banned accounts, including that of comedian Kathy Griffin, which had been taken down after she impersonated him on the site.

The company’s offices were locked down Friday and hundreds of employees quit rather than yield to Musk’s demands that they resign themselves to working long, grueling days at the new Twitter.

Twitter Reinstates Trump Account After Musk’s Poll

In this file photo taken on November 26, 2020 US President Donald Trump speaks to reporters after participating in a Thanksgiving teleconference with members of the United States Military, at the White House in Washington, DC. (Photo by Andrew CABALLERO-REYNOLDS / AFP)
File photo of former US President Donald Trump/ AFP

 

Donald Trump’s Twitter account was reinstated Saturday after the platform’s new owner Elon Musk ran a poll in which a narrow majority of voters supported the move, days after the former US president announced another White House bid.

Trump was banned from the platform early last year for his role in the January 6 attack on the US Capitol by a mob of his supporters seeking to overturn the results of the 2020 election.

“The people have spoken. Trump will be reinstated,” Musk tweeted, shortly after the 24-hour poll ended.

“Vox Populi, Vox Dei,” he added, repeating a Latin adage he posted Friday meaning “the voice of the people is the voice of God.”

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More than 15 million people — out of 237 million daily Twitter users — voted on whether to reinstate the controversial profile, with 51.8 percent in favor and 48.2 percent against.

Trump, who had more than 88 million users when his account was suspended, reveled in using Twitter as a mouthpiece during his presidency, posting policy announcements, attacking political rivals and communicating with supporters.

Musk’s poll asked for a simple “yes” or “no” response to the statement “Reinstate former President Trump,” which the billionaire Twitter boss posted Friday.

“Fascinating to watch Twitter Trump poll!” Musk mused Saturday morning in a blast of tweets from the controversial and hard-charging new owner of the one-to-many messaging platform.

He has posed similar polls in the past, asking followers last year if he should sell stock in his electric car company Tesla. Following that poll, he sold more than $1 billion in shares.

 ‘I have Truth Social’

Trump said Saturday he would not return to the popular platform but instead remain on his own network, Truth Social, launched after he was banned from Twitter.

Appearing via video at a gathering of the Republican Jewish Coalition in Las Vegas, Trump said he welcomed the poll and was a fan of Musk, but appeared to reject any return.

“He did put up a poll and it was very overwhelming… but I have something called… Truth Social.”

As to whether he would return to the platform, he said: “I don’t see it because I don’t see any reason for it.”

Trump had not posted to Twitter by late Saturday, though he did share a series of unrelated messages on his Truth Social account, including opinion articles criticizing the US Justice Department’s appointment of a special counsel this week to investigate his role in the Capitol attack.

But several of his political allies were highlighting his return.

“Welcome back, @realdonaldtrump!” tweeted House Republican Paul Gosar.

Prominent Trump-backer Congresswoman Marjorie Taylor Greene, whose personal account is also suspended, re-tweeted several of his previous posts from her official government account, including some tweets that were still marked with fact-checking badges refuting his claims about 2020 election fraud.

“Anyone who thinks President Trump isn’t going to win the 2024 primary is fooling themselves,” she tweeted.

Anti-Trump Republican Liz Cheney, co-chair of the congressional committee investigating the Capitol attack who lost her re-election bid, responded to the news by directing Twitter users to a link with a video of one of the committee’s hearings.

“With Trump back on Twitter, it’s a good time to watch this Jan 6 hearing,” she tweeted.

“It covers each of Trump’s tweets that day, including those that have been deleted, and features multiple Trump WH staff describing his inexcusable conduct during the violence.”

Musk has reinstated other banned accounts, including that of comedian Kathy Griffin, which had been taken down after she impersonated him on the site.

 Twitter chaos

Musk, also the CEO of Tesla and SpaceX, has come under fire for radical changes at California-based Twitter, which he bought less than a month ago for $44 billion.

Since then, he has fired half of Twitter’s 7,500 staff and scrapped a work-from-home policy, all while his attempts to overhaul the company faced backlash and delays.

Hundreds of employees quit rather than yield to Musk’s demands that they resign themselves to working long, grueling days at the new Twitter.

His stumbling attempts to revamp user verification with a controversial subscription service led to a slew of fake accounts and pranks, and prompted major advertisers to step away from the platform.

AFP

Twitter Sacks Half Of Its Staff As Musk Launches Overhaul

The Twitter logo is seen on the exterior of Twitter headquarters in San Francisco, California, on October 28, 2022. (Photo by Constanza HEVIA / AFP)

 

Twitter sacked half of its 7,500-strong staff on Friday as new owner Elon Musk launched his major overhaul of the troubled company just a week after his blockbuster takeover.

An internal document seen by AFP said “roughly 50 percent” of employees were impacted and would be denied access to company computers and email on an immediate basis.

Workers around the world were shown the door and took to Twitter to vent their frustration or disbelief and say goodbye to one of Silicon Valley’s most iconic companies.

“Woke up to the news that my time working at Twitter has come to an end. I am heartbroken. I am in denial,” said Michele Austin, Twitter’s director of public policy for the US and Canada.

Ahead of the layoffs, Twitter closed access to its offices worldwide, asking employees to stay at home to await news of their fate through an email.

“It’s a pretty inhumane way to treat people. It seems like a mercenary effort, they’re trying to save money at all cost,” said one dismissed employee who spoke on the condition of anonymity.

READ ALSO: Banned Twitter Accounts To Be Restored – Musk

The cull is part of Musk’s push to find ways to pay for the mammoth $44 billion deal for which he took on billions of dollars in debt and sold $15.5 billion worth of Tesla shares, his electric car company.

Company sources said that Musk’s teams were imposing a furious pace on the remaining employees, bringing in Tesla developers to oversee the work of “Tweeps,” the inhouse name for Twitter workers.

Musk, the Tesla and SpaceX chief, is said to owe $1 billion in annual interest alone to pay for a deal he tried to wiggle out from almost as soon as he made it in April.

Musk has been scrambling to find new ways for Twitter to make money after his mammoth buyout, including an idea to charge users $8 a month for verified accounts.

The moves would help overcome the potential loss of advertisers, Twitter’s main source of revenue, with many of the world’s top brands putting their ad buys on hold, spooked by Musk’s well-known disdain for content controls.

 ‘Messed up!

The mercurial tycoon on Friday complained on Twitter of a “massive drop in revenue” that he blamed on “activist groups” that were pressuring advertisers.

“We did everything we could to appease the activists. Extremely messed up! They’re trying to destroy free speech in America,” he added.

This appeared to refer to Musk’s recent meeting with civil rights groups in which he heard concerns that Twitter would open the floodgates to hate speech a week before midterm election in the United States.

In an effort to soothe nerves, Musk had vowed that Twitter will not become a “free-for-all hellscape,” but his pledge was quickly followed by a tweet relaying a conspiracy theory about an assault on the husband of US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi.

“We are witnessing the real time destruction of one of the world’s most powerful communication systems. Elon Musk is an erratic billionaire who is dangerously unqualified to run this platform,” said Nicole Gill, Executive Director of Accountable Tech.

She was part of a coalition of 60 rights groups calling on Friday for a boycott by advertisers of the Musk-owned platform.

Derrick Johnson, president of the NAACP, a leading civil rights organization, said it would be “immoral, dangerous, and highly destructive to our democracy for any advertiser to fund a platform that fuels hate speech, election denialism and conspiracy theories.”

“Until actions are taken to make this a safe space, we call on companies to pause all advertising on Twitter,” he added.

Though extremely influential with opinion-makers and celebrities, the California company has long struggled to generate profit and has failed to keep pace with Facebook, Instagram and TikTok in gaining new users.

In the sign that matters were not improving, data showed Twitter may have lost more than a million users since Elon Musk took over.

Estimates from Bot Sentinel, a firm that tracks Twitter accounts, suggested that more than 875,000 users deactivated their accounts between October 27 and November 1, while half a million more were suspended.

AFP

Elon Musk Takes Control Of Twitter, Fires Executives

(FILES) In this file photo taken on May 02, 2022, Elon Musk arrives for the 2022 Met Gala at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York. – Elon Musk on May 10, 2022, said he would lift Twitter’s ban on former US president Donald Trump if Musk’s deal to buy the global messaging platform is successful. (Photo by Angela Weiss / AFP)

 

Elon Musk took control of Twitter and fired its top executives late Thursday in a deal that puts one of the leading platforms for global discourse in the hands of the world’s richest man.

Following the takeover, Musk tweeted that the “the bird is freed,” referencing the company’s iconic avian logo.

He wasted no time sacking chief executive Parag Agrawal, as well as the company’s chief financial officer and its head of safety, the Washington Post and CNBC reported citing unnamed sources.

Agrawal previously went to court to hold the Tesla chief to the terms of a deal he had tried to escape.

The takeover came hours before the court-appointed deadline for Musk to seal his on-again, off-again deal to purchase the social media network.


READ ALSO: North Korea Fires Two Ballistic Missiles, Says South’s Military


Musk tweeted earlier in the day that he was buying Twitter “because it is important to the future of civilization to have a common digital town square, where a wide range of beliefs can be debated in a healthy manner.”

Twitter did not immediately reply to a request for comment on the departure of its top executives, but the platform’s co-founder Biz Stone thanked the trio — Agrawal, Ned Segal and Vijaya Gadde — for their “collective contribution to Twitter.”

“Massive talents, all, and beautiful humans each.”

‘Chief Twit’

The closure of the deal marks the culmination of a long and drawn out back-and-forth between the billionaire and the social network.

Musk tried to step back from the Twitter deal soon after his unsolicited offer was accepted in April, and said in July he was canceling the contract because he was misled by Twitter over the number of fake “bot” accounts — allegations rejected by the company.

Twitter, in turn, sought to prove Musk was contriving excuses to walk away simply because he changed his mind.

After Musk sought to terminate the sale, Twitter filed a lawsuit to hold Musk to the agreement.

With a trial looming, the unpredictable billionaire capitulated and revived his takeover plan.

Musk signaled the deal was on track this week by changing his Twitter profile to “Chief Twit” and posting a video of himself walking into the company’s California headquarters carrying a sink.

“Let that sink in!” he quipped.

He even shared a picture of himself socializing at a coffee bar at Twitter headquarters earlier in the day Thursday.

Musk said during a recent Tesla earnings call that he was “excited” about the Twitter deal even though he and investors are “overpaying.”

Twitter free-for-all?

Some employees who would prefer not to work for Musk have already left, said a worker who asked to remain anonymous in order to speak more freely.

“But a portion of people, including me, are willing to give him the benefit of the doubt for now,” the employee said.

The idea of Musk running Twitter has alarmed activists who fear a surge in harassment and misinformation, with Musk himself known for trolling other Twitter users.

But Musk said he realizes Twitter “cannot become a free-for-all hellscape where anything can be said with no consequences.”

Musk has vowed to dial content moderation back to a bare minimum, and is expected to clear the way for former US president Donald Trump to return to the platform.

The then-president was blocked due to concerns he would ignite more violence like the deadly attack on the Capitol in Washington to overturn his election loss.

Far-right users were quick to rejoice on the network, posting comments such as “masks don’t work” and other taunts, under the belief that moderation rules will now be relaxed.

“Free speech will always prevail,” tweeted Republican Senator Marsha Blackburn of Tennessee, prompting replies including “says the party that bans books.”

Musk Making Up Excuses To Breach Deal, Says Twitter

In this photo illustration, The Twitter profile of Elon Musk with more than 80 million followers in shown on a cell phone on April 25, 2022 in Chicago, Illinois. (Photo Illustration by Scott Olson/Getty Images)

 

Twitter on Thursday said the notion Elon Musk was “hoodwinked” into inking a $44 billion buyout deal defies reason and the facts.

In a filing, Twitter rejected counterclaims made by Musk as he fights to walk away from the deal he inked in April to buy the San Francisco-based company.

“According to Musk, he – the billionaire founder of multiple companies, advised by Wall Street bankers and lawyers – was hoodwinked by Twitter into signing a $44 billion merger agreement,” Twitter said.

“That story is as implausible and contrary to the fact as it sounds.”

Musk last week filed a countersuit along with a legal defense against Twitter’s claim that the billionaire is contractually bound to complete the takeover deal.

“The counterclaims are a made-for-litigation tale that is contradicted by the evidence and common sense,” Twitter argued in the filing.

READ ALSO: US Says Russia Will Fake Scene Around Mass POW Deaths To Blame Ukraine

A five-day trial that will consider Twitter’s lawsuit against Musk has been scheduled for October 17.

The Tesla boss wooed Twitter’s board with a $54.20 per-share offer, but then in July announced he was ending their agreement because the firm had misled him regarding its tally of fake and spam accounts.

Twitter, whose stock price closed at $41.06 on Thursday, has stuck by its estimates that less than 5 percent of the activity on the platform is due to software “bots” rather than people.

Twitter told the court that Musk’s claim that the false account figure tops 10 percent is “untenable.”

The company also disputed Musk’s assertion that he has the right to walk away from the deal if Twitter’s bot count is found to be wrong since he didn’t ask anything about bots when he made the buyout offer.

“Musk forwent all due diligence – giving Twitter twenty-four hours to accept his take-it-or-leave-it offer before he would present it directly to Twitter’s stockholders,” the filing said.

The company accused Musk of contriving a story to escape a merger agreement that he no longer found attractive.

“Twitter has complied in every respect with the merger agreement,” the company said in the filing made to Chancery Court in the state of Delaware.

“Musk’s counterclaims, based as they are on distortion, misrepresentation, and outright deception, change nothing.”

The social media platform has urged shareholders to endorse the deal, setting a vote on the merger for September 13.

“We are committed to closing the merger on the price and terms agreed upon with Mr. Musk,” Twitter chief executive Parag Agrawal and board chairman Bret Taylor said in a letter to investors.

Billions of dollars are at stake, but so is the future of Twitter, which Musk has said should allow any legal speech — an absolutist position that has sparked fears the network could be used to incite violence.

AFP

Musk Accuses Twitter Of Withholding Data, Threatens To Withdraw Bid

CHICAGO, ILLINOIS APRIL 25: In this photo illustration, The Twitter profile of Elon Musk with more than 80 million followers is shown on a cell phone on April 25, 2022, in Chicago, Illinois. (Photo Illustration by Scott Olson/Getty Images) 

 

Elon Musk threatened Monday to withdraw his bid to buy Twitter, accusing it of failing to provide data on fake accounts, in the latest twist in the Tesla billionaire’s push to acquire the social network.

Twitter has committed “a clear material breach” of its “obligations under the merger agreement and Mr. Musk reserves … his right not to consummate the transaction,” according to a document filed with securities regulators.

The filing marks an escalation of Musk’s prior statements that have highlighted fake accounts as a threat to his proposed $44 billion deal to take over Twitter.

Musk has said that the real number of bots may be four times higher than Twitter estimates.

Bots can be used on social media to spread false news or create a distorted impression of how widely information is being consumed and shared.

Twitter chief executive Parag Agrawal has said that fewer than five percent of accounts active on any given day at Twitter are bots, but that analysis cannot be replicated externally due to the need to keep user data private.

Musk has been dismissive of Twitter’s responses and reiterated that stance in Monday’s filing.

To execute the deal, Musk “must have a complete and accurate understanding of the very core of Twitter’s business model — its active user base,” said the filing.

“Mr. Musk believes Twitter is transparently refusing to comply with its obligations under the merger agreement, which is causing further suspicion that the company is withholding the requested data due to concern for what Mr. Musk’s own analysis of that data will uncover.”

Shares of Twitter fell 3.6 percent to $38.70 in early trading.

AFP

Musk Secures $7.1bn To Finance Twitter Deal

In this photo illustration, The Twitter profile of Elon Musk with more than 80 million followers in shown on a cell phone on April 25, 2022, in Chicago, Illinois. (Photo Illustration by Scott Olson/Getty Images)

 

Elon Musk has raised $7.1 billion for his Twitter acquisition from investors that include Oracle founder Larry Ellison and Saudi Prince Alwaleed bin Talal, according to a securities filing Thursday.

Musk, chief executive of Tesla and SpaceX, listed 18 investors who agreed to cash investments including Ellison ($1 billion), Sequoia Capital ($800 million) and Vy Capital ($700 million).

The Saudi prince, the head of the Kingdom Holding Company conglomerate, agreed to contribute about 35 million Twitter shares worth $1.9 billion so as to retain a stake in the company post-acquisition, the filing said.

Alwaleed had previously balked at Musk’s $54.20 per share offer as too low, but praised Musk on Twitter on Thursday, saying “I look forward to roll our ~$1.9bn in the ‘new’ @Twitter and join you on this exciting journey.”

READ ALSO: TikTok To Launch Ad Revenue-Sharing Program For Creators

The investments will reduce a $12.5 billion margin loan organized through Morgan Stanley and other banks to $6.25 billion, the filing said.

The new financing means less of Musk’s Tesla shares will be used as collateral under the margin loan.

Musk “may receive additional financing commitments to fund additional portions of the total Merger Consideration,” the filing said, adding that the Tesla chief is in talks with former Twitter Chief Executive Jack Dorsey and others who may contribute shares to maintain an equity stake.

The Twitter takeover is expected to close later in 2022.

CNBC reported that upon completion of the deal, Musk is expected to serve as temporary CEO of Twitter for a few months, the network said, citing unnamed sources.

AFP

A Musk-Owned Twitter Opens Door To Potential Trump Return

n this file combination of pictures created on May 31, 2017, shows a file photo taken on January 23, 2017, showing SpaceX CEO Elon Musk (L) in Washington, DC., and US President Donald Trump at the US Capitol April 25, 2017, in Washington, DC.

 

Four days after Twitter permanently suspended Donald Trump’s account on January 8, 2021, the then-US president’s son pleaded with entrepreneur Elon Musk to employ his “brilliance” to launch a social media platform that “isn’t biased” to crush the competition.

Musk didn’t accept Donald Trump Jr’s challenge.

But the Tesla chief’s deal to acquire Twitter sets him up to revisit the ban on the brash Republican — a move that could roil US politics as the nation marches towards the 2024 presidential race and a potential Trump re-election bid.

The Trump matter has loomed as a question mark throughout the twists and turns of the Twitter deal saga.

A reinstatement of Trump would have significant implications for a media landscape the ex-president once dominated before he was deplatformed “due to the risk of further incitement of violence.”

READ ALSO: Trump Rules Out Twitter Return As Musk Announces $44 Bn Purchase

Since then, Trump has remained the most powerful figure in Republican politics, even as he has all but vanished from the daily news cycle.

When Trump does make news, he continues to claim the 2020 election was stolen from him, a false narrative that fuels his movement and sows distrust of US institutions.

Irresistible? 

Trump has said he wouldn’t return to Twitter even if offered, telling Fox News on Monday he would instead stay on his fledgling Truth Social platform, which has struggled to fully get off the ground.

On Tuesday, Truth Social was the most downloaded iPhone app, at least for that day. But its launch has been beset with technical problems and it has yet to make it onto the national political radar.

Nevertheless, many remain skeptical Trump would be able to resist rejoining Twitter if given the chance.

A Washington Post article Monday quoted anonymous Trump aides who said the ex-president badly misses Twitter, which he employed as president to settle scores and mold the news cycle.

While pursuing Twitter in recent weeks, Musk has not directly addressed the Trump question.

Analysts believe Musk is driven primarily by a desire to control a visible marketing platform more than aspirations to shape American politics.

But many read Musk’s criticism of Twitter content policies as suggesting he will lift the Trump ban.

“Free speech is the bedrock of a functioning democracy, and Twitter is the digital town square where matters vital to the future of humanity are debated,” Musk said Monday in announcing the deal.

 ‘He Sells News’

A Trump reinstatement is not without downside for Musk, who could face pushback beyond the world of Twitter.

“Trump is about as polarizing an issue as any imaginable,” said Daniel Binns, chief executive of Interbrand North America in New York.

“There might be some short-lived boycotting of Tesla amongst a small group of potential customers,” Binns told AFP in an email.

“But long term, I would fear a more corrosive erosion of the affinity people have for Tesla and the sense of empathy they have for their customer base,” he added.

Still, several experts in politics and social media characterized a Trump return as more likely than not in light of Musk’s freedom of speech statements and Trump’s standing as a potential 2024 Republican frontrunner.

New York Times columnist Kara Swisher urged readers to ready themselves for a shift from the “over-one-year-long respite from Trumpy Twitter.”

Twitter executives “would have been under enormous pressure to reconsider the ban” even if the company had not been acquired by Musk, said Swisher, who predicted the deal will “probably run Truth Social” and other nascent sites “out of business.”

Larry Sabato, director of the University of Virginia Center for Politics, predicted Trump would again have an outsized presence if he rejoined Twitter.

“It’s going to inject Trump back into the Republican mainstream,” said Sabato, who calls Trump “the worst thing to happen to American Democracy in my lifetime.”

Sabato thinks Trump will likely use Twitter to overshadow other politicians, including current President Joe Biden, “who doesn’t fill the news hole” as Trump did.

Karen North, founding director of the digital social media program at the University of Southern California’s Annenberg School, believes Trump would first give Truth Social a chance before returning to Twitter, if given the opportunity.

A key difference from Trump’s White House days is that his statements are no longer newsworthy by default. That creates questions for journalists on how much to amplify the former president’s comments, North said.

Trump “has surprising staying power,” she added, noting that some of the fascination may be the result of his diminished presence in daily news.

“People are still so curious and so polarized by him,” she said.

“He sells news.”

AFP

SpaceX’s Musk Unveils Plan To Reach Mars By 2022

SpaceX's Musk Unveils Plan To Reach Mars By 2022
Billionaire entrepreneur and founder of SpaceX Elon Musk speaks at the 68th International Astronautical Congress 2017 in Adelaide on September 29, 2017.
PETER PARKS / AFP

Futurist and inventor Elon Musk unveiled ambitious plans Friday to send cargo ships to Mars in five years and use rockets to carry people between Earth’s major cities in under half-an-hour.

The founder of SpaceX said a planned interplanetary transport system, codenamed BFR (Big Fucking Rocket), would be downsized so it could carry out a range of tasks that would then pay for future Mars missions.

“The most important thing… is that I think we have figured out how to pay for (BFR),” Musk told a packed auditorium at a global gathering of space experts in Adelaide.

“Which is to have a smaller vehicle, it’s still pretty big, but one that can… do everything that’s needed in the greater Earth orbit activity.”

Musk said his firm had started building the system, with the construction of the first ship to start in six to nine months.

“I feel fairly confident that we can complete the ship and launch in about five years,” he added.

At least two cargo ships would land on the Red Planet in 2022, with the key mission of finding the best source of water — currently mooted as a way to power rockets, he said.

The rockets would place power, mining and life-support infrastructure on Mars to support future missions, with four ships set to take people, equipment and supplies to the planet in 2024.

The trips would be funded by a range of activities, including launching satellites, servicing the space station and lunar missions, he said.

Musk added that the rockets should also cater to Earth inhabitants by reducing the travel between major cities to less than half-an-hour.

A trip from Bangkok to Dubai would take 27 minutes, and from Tokyo to Delhi in 30 minutes, according to his calculations.

“Once you are out of the atmosphere, it would be as smooth as silk, no turbulence, nothing,” he said.

“There’s no weather… and you can get to most long-distance places in less than half-an-hour. If we are building this thing to go to the Moon and Mars, then why not go to other places on Earth as well.”

The week-long annual International Astronautical Congress, which concluded Friday, has seen government space agencies and private firms outline their plans to send humans to the Moon and Mars in the next few decades.

This included an agreement between Russian space agency Roscosmos and NASA to work on the first lunar space station as part of a programme called the Deep Space Gateway.

AFP