Elon Musk is a genius, Trump says

President Donald Trump, it seems, is a fan of Elon Musk

Trump hailed the SpaceX and Tesla CEO in an interview with CNBC's Joe Kernen at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, calling the billionaire tech pioneer a "genius" who ranks alongside the likes of Thomas Edison. 

"He's one of our great geniuses and we have to protect our genius," Trump said of Musk while discussing Tesla, the electric car maker, with Kernen. CNBC posted the video online Wednesday (Jan. 22). 

SpaceX, Musk's private spaceflight company, has also impressed Trump with its regular launches of reusable rockets. The company is also building a new Crew Dragon space taxi for astronauts, as well as a giant Starship rocket for trips to the moon and Mars. 

In Photos: President Donald Trump and NASA

"He likes rockets, and he does good at rockets too, by the way," Trump said. "I never saw — where the engines come down with no wings, no anything and they're landing — I said, 'I've never seen that before.'

"He's one of our very smart people and we want to cherish those people," Trump added. "He's done a very good job."

Trump also marveled at the success of Tesla, which reached a $100 billion market cap for the first time today, according to CNBC

"Shocking, how well, how it's come so fast," Trump told Kernen of Telsa's success. "You go a back a year and they were talking about the end of the company, and now all of a sudden, they're talking about these great things." 

Trump also said that he expects Musk and Tesla to build another giant manufacturing plant in the United States. 

"He has to because we help him," Trump said without elaborating what he meant. "And so he has to help us."

On Sunday (Jan. 19), SpaceX launched a critical in-flight abort flight of its Crew Dragon spacecraft to test the spacecraft's emergency escape system to protect astronauts during a rocket emergency. The company plans to launch its fourth batch of Starlink internet satellites on Friday (Jan. 24). 

Musk called the Crew Dragon abort test a "picture-perfect" flight, adding that SpaceX hopes to begin launching astronauts to the International Space Station for NASA in the second quarter of this year.

Email Tariq Malik at tmalik@space.com or follow him @tariqjmalik. Follow us @Spacedotcom, Facebook and Instagram.

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Tariq Malik

Tariq is the Editor-in-Chief of Space.com and joined the team in 2001, first as an intern and staff writer, and later as an editor. He covers human spaceflight, exploration and space science, as well as skywatching and entertainment. He became Space.com's Managing Editor in 2009 and Editor-in-Chief in 2019. Before joining Space.com, Tariq was a staff reporter for The Los Angeles Times covering education and city beats in La Habra, Fullerton and Huntington Beach. In October 2022, Tariq received the Harry Kolcum Award for excellence in space reporting from the National Space Club Florida Committee. He is also an Eagle Scout (yes, he has the Space Exploration merit badge) and went to Space Camp four times as a kid and a fifth time as an adult. He has journalism degrees from the University of Southern California and New York University. You can find Tariq at Space.com and as the co-host to the This Week In Space podcast with space historian Rod Pyle on the TWiT network. To see his latest project, you can follow Tariq on Twitter @tariqjmalik.