Elon Musk was ’spat on’ by Russians after he tried to buy rockets for Mars

Elon Musk might now be one of the richest men in the world, but his confrontational approach to business once led to Russians spitting on his shoes, an associate has claimed.

Musk recently attracted attention with an attempt to buy Twitter, which he revealed is on hold until more research has been conducted into the amount of “bot” accounts on the site.

Before trying to organise the purchase of the social media giant, Elon had set his sights on colonising Mars, and launched the SpaceX agency, which has so far taken celebrities including William Shatner into orbit.

Now, a Channel 4 documentary, Elon Musk: Superhero or Supervillain, airing tonight (May 16) at 9pm has suggested that the controversial entrepreneur was rattling heads even before he developed his world-famous status.

Jim Cantrell, the co-founder of SpaceX, described how Elon had called him on a hot day in July 2001 with the ambition of a space exploration company.

“He went on about humanity being a multiplanetary species and that he wanted to prove that humans could go to Mars, and that he couldn’t afford US rockets, and he had heard that I was somebody who could connect him with buying Russian rockets,” he recalled.

Jim explained that following the end of the Cold War, Russia had been converting intercontinental ballistic missiles into satellite launchers and were selling them at a relatively cheap cost.

So, having worked in Russia for a number of years, Jim took Elon to a snowy Moscow to negotiate a deal for space rockets.

But, he suggested that the talks didn’t go as planned.

“Elon started explaining to them that we wanted to buy one of their rockets because we wanted to launch this mission to Mars," he remembered.

“The chief designer was getting very agitated as Elon spoke. Elon at the time was late 20s, and he didn’t dress well, and the Russians always wore ties, they were very formal.

You can watch Elon Musk: Superhero or Supervillain on Channel 4 tonight (May 16) at 9pm.

“Not dressing well is a sign of disrespect in their minds… This chief designer got tired of listening to him and he spit on our shoes.

“Elon stopped and looked at me and he said, ‘I think he spit on our shoes’. I said, ‘yeah, he did’."

The tycoon’s relationship with Russia and its current President Vladimir Putin hasn’t improved greatly since he launched SpaceX.

After his company’s tenth launch earlier this year, Elon appeared to take a dig at Putin and suggested he has been using his company to support Ukraine in the war effort against the despot.

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