SpaceX founder Elon Musk tried to get a newly elected Donald Trump on board with his company's mission to reach Mars, according to an excerpt from a new book on the Trump administration that has dominated headlines this week.
Among the many claims made in Michael Wolff's Fire and Fury: Inside the Trump White House, one passage described a scene at Trump Tower where then-president-elect Trump was taking meetings with tech titans such as Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos and SpaceX and Tesla CEO Elon Musk.
"Elon Musk, in Trump Tower, pitched Trump on the new administration's joining him in his race to Mars, which Trump jumped at," Wolff wrote in his tell-all book. Musk's effort was ostensibly an attempt to keep his company front-of-mind in the broad scope of national space exploration.
In response to the excerpt, a SpaceX spokesperson indirectly confirmed to Business Insider that the conversation happened, but that "it wasn't about Elon personally getting to Mars but rather making humans multi-planetary, which is the SpaceX mission."
Musk has been vocal about this goal. Last month, for example, he said it was "high time that humanity went beyond Earth."
"Should have a moon base by now and sent astronauts to Mars," Musk wrote in a Dec. 13 tweet. "The future needs to inspire."
Trump has previously expressed interest in jump-starting the national space program. He signed the NASA Transition Authorization Act in March last year, a law calling for a $19.5 billion yearly budget for NASA.
The law requests that the space agency put together a plan to get humans to Mars by 2033. But last month, Trump signed a new policy directive that added the moon as a critical destination in NASA's mandate (which spurred Musk's Dec. 13 comments on Twitter).
"This time, we will not only plant our flag and leave our footprints," Trump said during a signing ceremony at the White House. "We will establish a foundation for an eventual mission to Mars, and perhaps someday, to many worlds beyond."
Musk may beat NASA back to the moon with a privately funded mission -- that is, if SpaceX successfully test-launches its new Falcon Heavy rocket. The lunar voyage is currently slated to autonomously loop two paying customers around the moon inside SpaceX's Dragon 2 capsule, but neither land nor orbit the pockmarked world, by the end of this year.