Elon Musk has a team of technicians feverishly working on a tiny submersible tube/pod that may be able to save the 12 teenage (and pre-teen) soccer players, and their coach, trapped in a flooded, underwater cave. According to Musk’s tweets, SpaceX engineers are building a “double-layer Kevlar pressure pods with Teflon coating to slip by rocks.”
[Update] Elon Musk’s recent text sums up Thai official’s decision to go with a more conventional approach (Tweet is on the left). Still, the pod wll be standing by, just in case, and it could be used in the future if another situation like this comes up.
This pod appears to be constructed from a component used in Musk’s Falcon rocket.
The pods would allow each child to lay flat inside while they are pulled through the maze of water-filled tunnels, guided by divers. It will have segmented compartments that will allow for rocks or (dive) weights which can be filled by the divers to adjust buoyancy.
As they move, the children would be fed oxygen while laying still. This should circumvent the need to teach the children how to scuba-dive which; under the treacherous circumstances, would be a plus. Teaching frightened children how to scuba-dive in a dark cave with limited air is problematic at best.
One experienced diver has already lost his life while attempting to supply the soccer team with oxygen.
Regarding the pod’s exterior design (on where the oxygen connects and where/how each pod is maneuvered), Musk Tweeted, “4 handles/hitch points on front & 4 on rear. 2 air tank connections on front & 2 on rear, allowing 1 to 4 tanks simultaneously connected, all recessed for impact protection w secondary cap seal if leak develops.”
If all goes well, the contraption will be finished before Sunday July 8th and will be on a plane for the 17-hour flight to Thailand shortly thereafter. Oxygen levels are on the verge of becoming dangerous and the psychological state of children isolated in darkness under stressful conditions is worrisome as well. Time is an issue.
Here are his recent Tweets regarding the progress:
We will keep up with this story and post any significant updates as we get them.