Elon Musk Has Built a Sub Made From Rocket Parts to Save Kids Trapped in Thai Cave

Monday, 09 July 2018 - 11:48AM
Technology
SpaceX
Monday, 09 July 2018 - 11:48AM
Elon Musk Has Built a Sub Made From Rocket Parts to Save Kids Trapped in Thai Cave
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Image Credit: Screenshot from Twitter/ElonMusk
Elon Musk has been flirting with the line between eccentric visionary and Bond villain for years, but his latest proposal sounds more like Tony Stark than Blofeld: he wants to repurpose a piece of equipment from one of his rockets as a kid-sized submarine and send it into the flooded Tham Luang cave in Thailand, where seven members of a boys' soccer team are trapped.

It's a strange rescue project for Musk to get involved with, considering he's already committed to saving commuters from horrendous traffic with the Boring Company and saving humanity itself from its artificial intelligence by escaping to Mars with SpaceX. Nonetheless, engineers from both of Musk's companies were flown out to Tham Luang cave on Saturday to assess the situation and recommend possible solutions. What they come up with this:



That is a liquid oxygen transfer tube from a Falcon rocket, retrofitted with some extra equipment to make it into a functioning (if crude) sub. Despite looking like a cylindrical metal coffin, it's apparently large enough to fit an adult man, though specifics of how it works are still unclear—is it remote controlled? How is air supplied to the inner chamber? How long can it operate? One Thai navy diver has already died of lack of oxygen while participating in the rescue effort (which has successfully transported five kids out of the cave so far), so the stakes are high.

So far, Musk has said that the tube-sub has high thermal conductivity, which would keep the passenger relatively warm, and has suggested that he could install a music player inside to help calm the kids as they're ferried to safety. According to Musk, he could have the sub delivered to the site in 17 hours. In a post on Twitter, Musk said "Hopefully, [it will be] useful. If not, perhaps it will be in a future situation." Of course, his mind didn't stop there—he also tweeted "With some mods, this could also work as an escape pod in space."
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