Elon Musk announced in a series of tweets that his team has finished a mini submarine and that it's on its way to Thailand. The submarine is designed to assist the rescue efforts for the remaining members of the Thai soccer team who are trapped in a cave by heavy rains.
Rescuers have so far rescued eight of the 12 boys. The rescue has been difficult due to the conditions inside the cave and the threat of more rain. A Thai Navy SEAL died Friday while attempting to pass through the cave to bring supplies to the team and its coach.
The cave gets so narrow at one point that the divers have to move their oxygen tanks out in front of them in order to get through.
Musk sent engineers from Boring Co. and SpaceX to Thailand to help assist the rescuers.
The mini sub was built out of a tube from SpaceX's Falcon 9 rocket. It weighs around 90 pounds.
In a series of tweets on Sunday, June 8, Musk announced that a team of engineers had successfully created the mini submarine.
Testing underwater in LA pool pic.twitter.com/CDO2mtjP2D— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) July 8, 2018
Diver weight belts wrapped around outside. Mini-sub only weighs ~40kg dry, so easy to carry on long dry sections of cave, then add weight belts for wet sections.— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) July 8, 2018
Apparently Musk was in constant contact with Thai officials while they were building the sub. Musk tweeted about the feedback he had received.
Some good feedback from cave experts in Thailand. Iterating with them on an escape pod design that might be safe enough to try. Also building an inflatable tube with airlocks. Less likely to work, given tricky contours, but great if it does.— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) July 7, 2018
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
He then announced that the submarine had been loaded on a plane and was en route to Thailand.
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
Musk has other ideas for the mini sub in case it doesn't aid the Thailand rescue.
With some mods, this could also work as an escape pod in space— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) July 8, 2018
Musk also announced that they were working on another version of the submarine that is 30 centimeters shorter than the one that's en route the Thailand.