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Elon Musk Unveils Plans to put Humans on Mars by 2024

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Elon Musk
Elon Musk, founder, CEO and lead designer at SpaceX. voa
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Adelaide, Sep 29: Elon Musk, founder of SpaceX on Friday unveiled its plans to put humans on Mars as early as 2024.

Speaking on the final day of the 68th International Astronautical Congress (IAC) here, SpaceX CEO Elon Musk made the announcement of the plans, reports Xinhua news agency.

Musk, who also serves as the CEO of automotive company Tesla, said SpaceX was aiming for cargo missions to the Red Planet in 2022 and crew with cargo by 2024.

He said that missions to Mars would be launched every two years from 2022 onwards with colonisation and terraforming to begin as soon as the first humans arrive in order to make it “a really nice place to be”.

“It’s about believing in the future, and thinking that the future will be better than the past,” Musk said.

SpaceX also announced its new BFR rocket on Friday.

“I can’t emphasise enough how profound this is, and how important this is,” Musk told the Congress as the keynote speaker on the final day.

The new BFR has the highest capacity payload of any rocket ever built, meaning it has the lowest launch cost, due to its status as a fully reusable rocket while also being the most powerful.

“It’s really crazy that we build these sophisticated rockets and then crash them every time we fire,” Musk said.

He said that the new BFR could carry a 40-carriage spaceship to Mars with two or three people occupying each carriage.

The rocket is capable of flying from Earth to the Moon and back without refuelling, making creating a base on the Moon, dubbed Moon Base Alpha, achievable in near future.

SpaceX intends for the new, scaled-down BFR to replace its other flagship rockets, the Dragon, Falcon 9 and Falcon Heavy.

Musk said the BFR could even be used for international flights on Earth, promising to cut most long-distance Earth flights to just half an hour.

He said the rocket could travel from New York City to Shanghai in 37 minutes at a maximum speed of 18,000 miles (28,968 km) per hour.

Funding for BFR development will come from SpaceX’s satellite and International Space Station (ISS) revenue.

SpaceX’s announcement came hours after Lockheed Martin revealed new technology that would see it land on Mars in partnership with NASA by 2030.

SpaceX estimated this year that a permanent, self-sustaining colony on Mars was 50 to 100 years away.(IANS)

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Slow Disclosure of Tesla Raising Governance, Social Media Concerns

In his blog, Musk said he made the announcement on Twitter to ensure all investors were aware of his plan before speaking with the company's largest shareholders

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FILE - Elon Musk, CEO of Tesla Motors Inc., talks during a news conference at the company's headquarters in Fremont, California, Sept. 29, 2015. (VOA)

Tesla’s handling of Chief Executive Elon Musk’s proposal to take the carmaker private and its failure to promptly file a formal disclosure has raised governance concerns and sparked questions about how companies use social media.

Musk stunned investors last Tuesday by announcing on Twitter that he was considering taking Tesla private in a potential $72 billion transaction and that “funding” had been “secured.”

Tesla’s shares closed up 11 percent before retrenching after the Wall Street Journalreported that the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) had asked Tesla why Musk announced his plans on Twitter and whether his statement was truthful.

Musk provided no details of his funding until Monday, when he said in a blog on Tesla’s website that he was in discussions with Saudi Arabia’s sovereign wealth fund and other potential backers but that financing was not yet nailed down.

Musk said his tweet and blogs were issued in his personal capacity as a private bidder for Tesla’s stock. A Tesla spokesman pointed Reuters to Musk’s blog in response to a request for comment.

Putting aside whether Musk misled anyone, the unorthodox manner in which he announced the news and Tesla’s failure to promptly clarify the situation with a regulatory filing is a corporate governance lapse that raises questions about how companies use social media to release market-moving news, securities lawyers said.

Tesla CEO
Tesla CEO and founder of the Boring Company Elon Musk speaks at a news conference in Chicago, June 14, 2018. (VOA)

“Management buyouts or other take-private transactions already suffer from serious information asymmetry between management and public shareholders,” said Gabriel Rauterberg, a University of Michigan law professor.

SEC rules typically require companies to file an 8-K form within four business days of a significant corporate event.

While several securities lawyers said Musk’s tweets alone did not trigger this obligation, such a filing would be prudent given the unusual circumstances, David Axelrod, a partner at law firm Ballard Spahr LLP, said.

“An 8-K would provide some more details, it would say what stage negotiations are in, and provide more information than 53 characters in a tweet,” he added.

Full and fair disclosure

SEC guidelines published in 2013 allow companies and their executives to use social media to distribute material information, provided investors have been alerted that this is a possibility. Tesla did this in a 2013 filing.

But such disclosures have to be full and fair, meaning the information is complete and accessible by all investors at the same time, a bar that Musk’s tweets may not have met.

“Twitter is not designed to provide full and fair disclosure. That doesn’t mean that you couldn’t, but in a series of 20 to 30 characters I’m not sure you’re getting full disclosure,” said Zachary Fallon, a former SEC attorney and principal at law firm Blakemore Fallon.

 

Elon Musk
Elon Musk, founder, CEO and lead designer at SpaceX. (VOA)

The SEC declined to comment Monday.

Securities lawyers said there was also a question mark over whether Musk selectively disclosed information on the possible terms of the deal when he subsequently replied to followers, two of whom claim in their handles to be investors.

Those tweets were not immediately visible to all followers of Musk’s main feed until he retweeted them.

History of Twitter use

The 47-year-old billionaire’s history of joking about Tesla and using twitter to bait his critics also appears to have undermined trust in Musk’s feed as a reliable source of company information, with many investors initially believing Tuesday’s tweet was a prank.

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In his blog, Musk said he made the announcement on Twitter to ensure all investors were aware of his plan before speaking with the company’s largest shareholders.

But his claim to have done so as a private person presents a potential conflict of interest, said Nimish Patel, a lawyer with Mitchell Silberberg & Knupp.

“If you’re speaking on behalf of the company using resources like Twitter and the company website, while at the same time saying you’re a private individual expressing your own personal views, you are being inconsistent and creating confusion for investors. And when there’s confusion, the SEC is likely going to get involved,” he added. (VOA)