Elon Musk says SpaceX is working on a kid-size submarine to extract those boys in Thailand

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Elon Musk says SpaceX is working on a kid-size submarine to extract those boys in Thailand

Over the last couple of days, serial entrepreneur Elon Musk has been tweeting about how to potentially help the 12 young soccer players and their coach who’ve been trapped in a cave in Thailand since entering it June 23rd, after which they became trapped by rising floodwaters.

Now, suggests Musk, working with cave experts in Thailand, Musk and engineers from his rocket company, SpaceX, have decided on the “primary path” to attempt to freeing the group: a “tiny, kid-size submarine” that uses the “liquid oxygen transfer tube” of SpaceX’s Falcon rocket as hull.

It’s “[l]ight enough to be carried by two divers, small enough to get through narrow gaps. Extremely robust,” Musk tweeted a couple of hours ago, adding that construction on the vehicle will be “complete in about 8 hours” after which it will be sent on a 17-hour flight to Thailand. (SpaceX is based in Hawthorne, California, outside of L.A.)

Whether the creation is made and shipped out remains to be seen, but Musk suggested on Twitter that it would be “[f]itted for a kid or small adult to minimize open air” with “[s]egmented compartments to place rocks or dive weights” and “adjust buoyancy.”

Musk had tweeted last night that both SpaceX and his much newer, tunnel boring company, Boring Company, would be sending engineers to Thailand today to see how they could help.

If SpaceX is able to create an escape pod that works, Musk — who enjoys a kind of cult status in the business world for building superior products in challenging, capital-intensive industries — will only further burnish his reputation as a kind of Tony Stark figure. Indeed, his Twitter feed is currently filled with adoring comments relating to his interest in rescuing the soccer team.

It’s a daunting challenge. As reported in the New York Times, the cave complex has never been fully mapped and it features  different waterways that don’t appear to be directly linked. Rescue attempts have already led to one fatality, that of former Thai Navy SEAL diver Saman Gunan, who brought tanks of air to the boys and their coach, then lost consciousness in one of its passageways on his swim out of the complex.

Update: The original version of this story included a short reference to a contest that Musk is not involved in. Thanks to a reader for flagging this for us.

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