As hundreds of experts and military personnel were figuring out the best way to rescue a Thai youth soccer team and their coach trapped in the Tham Luang Nang Non cave system, inventor Elon Musk came up with his own method for saving the 12 boys and one coach.
On Sunday, Musk posted photos and videos of a submerged vessel operated by SpaceX engineers. They tested the “tiny, kid-size submarine” in a Los Angeles high school swimming pool. It features “the liquid oxygen transfer tube of [SpaceX’s] Falcon rocket as hull,” reported MSN.
In one video clip, three people wearing scuba equipment pull the submarine, which has eight handles and four air tank connections, through the pool. Another clip shows a man getting out of the cylinder, which is approximately six-feet long. The submarine can be carried by two divers and is narrow enough to squeeze through narrow gaps in the cave system, according to Musk.
The device can fit one person with his arms crossed. The vessel also includes protection in case it hits any rocks in the cave.
Musk’s team travelled to Thailand on Sunday after it completed underwater testing. In the meantime, four boys were rescued, and Musk tweeted that he hoped it would still be useful, adding, “If not, perhaps it will be in a future situation.” Musk also suggested the vessel could work as an escape pod in space with some modifications.
The team of boys and their coach became trapped on June 23 following the onset of heavy rain in the area. Divers discovered they were still alive one week later. Rescuers and experts from around the world have responded to the tragedy to help extract the team from the cave system.
The rescue has been complicated by several factors, such as a drop in oxygen levels in the cave and the limited swimming abilities of some of the children, who have been trapped underground for more than two weeks.