Elon Musk Tests ‘Kid-Size Submarine’ Designed to Rescue Kids Trapped in Thai Cave

Eight boys have been rescued from the cave and four more, along with their coach, remain.

Elon Musk
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Elon Musk has a plan to rescue the four children still trapped in a cave in northern Thailand: Pull them out in a mini-submarine. 

The billionaire inventor, who has sent engineers from SpaceX and the Boring Company to aid in the effort to save the trapped soccer team, first floated the idea of a “tiny, kid-size submarine using the liquid oxygen transfer tube of Falcon rocket as hull” on Saturday. On Saturday, he posted videos of the contraption in action.


The tube was designed “based on dive team feedback,” Musk tweeted. It has four oxygen ports, an acrylic o-ring seal on the lid and the ability to withstand 10 times the amount of pressure it would be subjected to by the cave water. 

On Sunday, Musk tweeted that the sub got three hours of testing in Los Angeles and then it was sent to Thailand.

It was over two weeks ago now that a youth soccer team went missing in a cave in Thailand. After days of searching, rescuers found the 12 boys and their coach huddled on a muddy ledge 2.5 miles deep into the cave. But getting them out proved a challenge after torrential rains made the cave impassable on foot. After the tragic death of one rescue diver, extractions of the boys began.

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So far, eight of them have been rescued using a far less sophisticated approach than the one Musk is proposing. The boys are simply swimming out, with an experienced diver in front and behind each one. They’re wearing full-face diving masks, which are easier for novice divers, and their air packs are being carried by the diver ahead of them.

Musk’s submarine would make the boys passive participants in their rescue. 

It’s unclear if Musk’s design would be able make the twists and turns to get out of the cave (he says it will), or if it will be on site in time to aid in the rescue of the four boys and one coach remaining in the cave. And given the success of the current approach, it’s hard to imagine Thai authorities would opt to use an unknown like Musk’s sub. 

No matter. Musk already has other ideas for his latest invention.