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Elon Musk Created a “Kid-Size” Submarine for Thai Cave Rescue

Editor’s note: This week’s Muskwatch was recorded prior to the latest updates in the Thai Cave Rescue story. As of Tuesday morning, all 12 members of the Wild Boars youth soccer team and their coach have been extracted from the cave, according to Thai navy SEALS. While the mini-sub devised by Musk and his engineering team was not utilized in the rescue mission, it was on-site and ready to be deployed should it have been necessary. The mini-sub’s continued development and transportation to Thailand was requested by Dick Stanton, one of the dive rescue mission’s co-leaders, according to a tweet from Musk.

Original article:

While Elon Musk has a tendency to make headlines for seemingly farfetched ideas like high-end flamethrowers, cyborg dragons, and launching sports cars into outer space, the billionaire entrepreneur has put his mind to devising a way to help rescue the group of boys trapped deep within a cave in Thailand. While rescue efforts were already underway, with eight of the 12 boys having been rescued prior to Musk’s intervention—Musk devised a plan to bring an enclosed metallic pod, which he referred to as a “kid-size submarine”, to help rescue the remaining cave-in victims. (Since the inception of Musk’s plan, the four remaining boys and their coach have indeed found their way to safety, thanks to Thai Navy SEALs.)

Over the weekend, a team of Thai Navy SEALS, international divers, and international experts—including a U.S. military crew—began a daring rescue operation to extract the Thai youth soccer team and their 25-year-old coach, who were trapped in the Tham Luang cave complex, that flooded as a result of heavy monsoon rains. In order to save the trapped boys, responders had to pass through 1.5 miles of narrow, flooded tunnels, passing through openings as narrow as three feet wide and two feet tall, according to The New York Times.  The rescue operation is incredibly dangerous and thanks to forecasts of heavy monsoon rains in the days ahead, the window of opportunity for rescue is rapidly dwindling. Case in point, Thai Navy Sgt. Saman Kunan, a former SEAL, died on Friday morning due to lack of oxygen while trying to make his way back to an underground command center.

In response to the crisis, Musk began working with engineers from SpaceX and The Boring Company to see if they could devise a way to assist authorities already on the ground. Their solution? An “escape pod” which two divers could use to transport the trapped boys through the underwater caves to the surface.

On Twitter, Musk explained that the metal tube would be “[l]ight enough to be carried by 2 divers, small enough to get through narrow gaps” in the cave, and “extremely robust.” The roughly 6-foot-long device is outfitted with four oxygen ports and a nose cone designed to protect it from rocks that may otherwise damage the vessel. The device weighs approximately 90 pounds, which is light enough that a team of two divers should theoretically be able to carry it across the dry stretches of the arduous trek. In the video above, which Musk shared on Monday, engineers tested the device in a Los Angeles pool, maneuvering it through a simulated version of the narrow underwater passageway.

On Sunday evening, Musk announced that the mini-sub was on its way to Thailand, saying that it will be “hopefully useful,” but if not that it could have applications in future situations. For example, Musk also noted that with some modifications, the device has potential future applications as an escape pod for use in space missions.

In the end, it was the brave Navy SEALs that rescued the remaining children and coach from the cave; you can read more details over at BBC, who covered the whole story on the ground in Thailand.

In addition to Musk’s intervention in the Thai Cave Rescue, today’s Muskwatch is taking a look at the latest news from The Boring Company’s massive tunnel project in Chicago, the Tesla Model 3’s magical new “Summon Mode,” and the weird news that Elon Musk may, in fact, be a Juggalo. Watch today’s episode above to find out!

What do you think of this week’s biggest stories? What would you like to see us explore on the next Muskwatch?  Let us know in the comments below!

Images: Elon Musk

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