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According to Tech Insider (This article and its images were originally posted on Tech Insider July 6, 2018 at 07:37AM.)
- Elon Musk said on Wednesday that he would be “happy to help” the Thai soccer team stuck in a cave since June 23.
- He has now sketched a plan that could help save the boys, and said that engineers from his companies will go to Thailand tomorrow.
- Rescuers are in a race against time get the team out of the cave, as oxygen levels are depleting and monsoon rains threaten to leave them trapped for months.
Elon Musk has detailed plans that could help free the Thai soccer team stuck inside a cave – and engineers from two of his companies are going to Thailand to help.
Musk outlined his proposal on Twitter today, where he suggested inserting a tube through the cave network and inflating it, allowing the team to travel out of the cave.
“Maybe worth trying: insert a 1m diameter nylon tube (or shorter set of tubes for most difficult sections) through cave network & inflate with air like a bouncy castle, ” he wrote. “Should create an air tunnel underwater against cave roof & auto-conform to odd shapes like the 70cm hole.”
Maybe worth trying: insert a 1m diameter nylon tube (or shorter set of tubes for most difficult sections) through cave network & inflate with air like a bouncy castle. Should create an air tunnel underwater against cave roof & auto-conform to odd shapes like the 70cm hole.
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) July 6, 2018
He wrote that engineers from two of his companies, aerospace manufacturer SpaceX and tunnel construction company Boring Co, are going to Thailand tomorrow to see if they can be helpful to the government.
“There are probably many complexities that are hard to appreciate without being there in person,” Musk wrote.
SpaceX & Boring Co engineers headed to Thailand tomorrow to see if we can be helpful to govt. There are probably many complexities that are hard to appreciate without being there in person.
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) July 6, 2018
A Twitter user highlighted the narrowest parts of the cave, where the diameter reaches just 70 centimeters (28 inches), as well as parts of the route that are filled with water and require diving.
Musk wrote in response that the water near the entrance looks like it could be pumped out. The deeper stretches would need battery packs, air pumps, and tubes, he said.
“If depth of 2nd is accurate, would need ~0.5 bar tube pressure. Prob need to enter tube, zip up & then transit.”
The 12 Thai boys and their soccer team have been trapped inside the cave since June 23. Rescuers have been working on a variety of plans, including teaching the boys to scuba dive out alongside professional divers. But the mission has been turned into a race against time as oxygen levels deplete and heavy rain is due this weekend.
The dive is also dark and dangerous – it took rescuers six hours to reach the team and another five hours to return to the entrance. A former Thai Navy SEAL died early Friday while placing oxygen tanks in the cave.
It is not yet clear if Musk’s solution will be looked at further, or if it would work better than the methods currently being explored by rescuers.
Musk first offered to help with the rescue mission on Thursday. He replied to a Twitter user, saying he was “happy to help if there is a way to do so.”
Rescuers have been pumping water out of the cave in a bid to drain enough water to let the boys walk out, rather than having to scuba dive. Musk indicated on Wednesday that he might be able to help with this effort: “Don’t know if pump rate is limited by electric power or pumps are too small. If so, could dropship fully charged Powerpacks and pumps.”
Rescuers have also explored digging a hole into the cave system, allowing the boys to exit. Musk wrote on Wednesday that Boring Co “has advanced ground penetrating radar & is pretty good at digging holes.”
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