Elon Musk making “kid-sized submarine” to rescue teens in Thailand cave

Enlarge / SpaceX CEO Elon Musk speaks at the International Astronautical Congress on September 29, 2017 in Adelaide, Australia. (credit: Mark Brake/Getty Images)

Elon Musk tweeted on Saturday that a team of SpaceX engineers is hours away from completing work on a “tiny kid-sized submarine” that could be used to extract 12 teenagers and preteens who are stranded with their soccer coach in a flooded cave in Thailand. Musk has had a team of engineers working on the problem for the last couple of days and has been keeping the world updated on the work via Twitter.

On Thursday night, Musk tweeted about an idea to use an inflatable nylon tube to help the kids escape. By Friday afternoon, Musk’s thinking had evolved. He tweeted that his team was working on building “double-layer Kevlar pressure pods with Teflon coating to slip by rocks.” A mid-day tweet on Saturday provided another update:

Got more great feedback from Thailand. Primary path is basically a tiny, kid-size submarine using the liquid oxygen transfer tube of Falcon rocket as hull. Light enough to be carried by 2 divers, small enough to get through narrow gaps. Extremely robust.

— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) July 7, 2018

And this isn’t just a theory: Musk says that his team is building the contraption now. “Construction complete in about 8 hours, then 17 hour flight to Thailand,” Musk tweeted just before noon, California time.

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Elon Musk making “kid-sized submarine” to rescue teens in Thailand cave