The world has been holding its collective breath, awaiting the rescue of the twelve young soccer players and their coach trapped in the six-mile long Tham Luang Nang Non cave system in Chang Rai, northern Thailand for 15 days now.
Elon Musk has been working on a plan.
Musk and his team of engineers began working with Thai authorities a few days ago, after one of the highly-trained Thai Navy divers assisting with the rescue died after losing consciousness in one of the cave's passageways. The cave has been called the Mt. Everest of cave dives by experienced cave divers.
In the last 24 hours, eight of the twelve boys have been rescued. The first set of four were rescued late Sunday and transported to a hospital to begin recuperation and quarantine for potential infectious diseases before being reintegrated back into their neighborhood and schools. The second set is said to have been rescued early this morning.
Meanwhile Musk's engineers have now built and tested the 31cm (12.2 inches) diameter escape pod or mini-sub, which was shipped to Thailand late yesterday and is due to arrive today. Musk hopes the pod will help rescue those boys still trapped in the Tham Luang cave but is uncertain whether or not Thai authorities have plans to use the invention.
Here's how it all went down on Twitter:
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
Mini-sub arriving in about 17 hours. Hopefully useful. If not, perhaps it will be in a future situation.— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) July 8, 2018
People on Twitter had questions for Musk.
Some wondering whether or not his pod could fit and maneuver past the treacherous "choke-point," a narrow, 38-centimeter hole in the rock that the boys have squeeze up through in the first leg of their journey out:
I've seen some reports that the narrowest part of the cave is roughly 72 cm by 38 cm (see attached diagram for instance). What is the diameter of the tube? If it's over 38 cm, wouldn't it get stuck in this spot? Or are these diagrams wrong? pic.twitter.com/ppO6wRJROb— Timothy B. Lee (@binarybits) July 8, 2018
According to divers who have made the passage, yes. However, we also made an exact replica that is inflatable, so that the entire path can be tested without risk of blockage.— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) July 9, 2018
Pretty close. There is a nosecone on the front to protect against rocks impacting fwd air hoses with a hole on the side for hoses to exit.— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) July 8, 2018
The identities of the rescued boys have not yet been released (even to their families). The boys range in age from 11-16-years-old.
Four boys and their 25-year-old coach still currently remain inside the cave.
There is hope that the last group of trapped soccer players will be rescued later today but there is a ten hour lag time between rescue missions for divers to reset the necessary oxygen tanks and other equipment throughout the cave system that will help the remaining boys along their estimated five to seven hour journey out. Each rescue has taken divers around nine hours round trip.