Divers in Thailand have already rescued four of the 12 boys who were stranded in a flooded cave with their coach. And they hope to save the rest in the coming days. But in the meantime, Elon Musk has continued to work on alternative strategies divers can use when conventional diving proves too difficult for the remaining guys.
On Saturday, Musk decided on the idea of building “a small submarine the size of a child with the Falcon rocket’s liquid oxygen transfer tube as its hull.” He instructed SpaceX engineers to build the device and said it could be ready by the end of the day on Saturday.
By the time it was done, Thai officials had already started their rescue without Musk’s help, so the technology probably won’t be needed. But Musk decided to go ahead anyway, tweet that “even if it’s not helpful here, maybe it will be in a future situation.”
On Sunday, he posted photos of the completed device.
“Another 3 hours of testing in LA, then it’s on the plane to Thailand,” says Musk tweeted late Sunday morning, California time.
Musk also posted a video of the device being tested in a Los Angeles pool:
Testing underwater in LA pool pic.twitter.com/CDO2mtjP2D
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) July 8, 2018
Update: The tube is For real narrow. Some diagrams online show a passage narrowing at its narrowest point to just 38 cm – about 15 inches. We asked Musk if the cylinder would really fit through such a small space, and he responded on Twitter that the cylinder was 31 cm wide – just over a foot.
That would of course be too narrow for many adults to squeeze in, but maybe it’s just big enough for the Thai teens – especially the younger ones – to get in.