While Tesla and SpaceX CEO Elon Musk has been tweeting regularly about his plans to help in the rescue of the Thai soccer team stranded in a cave, on-site rescuers have not been impressed with Musk’s solutions, stating that his “mini-submarine” is “not practical.”
Elon Musk has been tweeting regularly about the rescue of a Thai soccer team stranded in a cave following multiple tweets from his army of followers, begging him to fix the situation. Musk made multiple suggestions on how to rescue the team, first suggesting a series of inflatable tubes be used to provide oxygen to the caves, then having a team of engineers construct a “mini-submarine” that could be used to transport a single person out a time while providing them with oxygen.
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
However, it seems that both of Musk’s suggestions were useless in the successful rescue of the soccer team. The former Thai Provincial Governor and current head of the joint command center coordinating the operation, Narongsak Osatanakorn, told the BBC that “the equipment they brought to help us is not practical with our mission.” Osatanakorn further stated: “Even though their equipment is technologically sophisticated, it doesn’t fit with our mission to go in the cave.”
Musk took issue with this almost immediately, defending himself via Twitter. Musk tweeted a photo of an email correspondence with British diver Richard Stanton, who was one of the first to discover the stranded boys:
The former Thai provincial governor (described inaccurately as “rescue chief”) is not the subject matter expert. That would be Dick Stanton, who co-led the dive rescue team. This is our direct correspondence: pic.twitter.com/dmC9l3jiZR
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) July 10, 2018
Musk tweeted about the rescue of the Thai soccer team from inside the cave where he had apparently arrived to help. Musk included photographs from inside the cave, where he stated that the mini-submarine was made from rocket parts and would be left behind in Thailand “in case it may be useful in the future.”
Just returned from Cave 3. Mini-sub is ready if needed. It is made of rocket parts & named Wild Boar after kids’ soccer team. Leaving here in case it may be useful in the future. Thailand is so beautiful. pic.twitter.com/EHNh8ydaTT
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) July 9, 2018
A spokesman for Thai Prime Minister, General Prayut Chan-O-Chan stated that the Thai government was “appreciative of Mr. Elon Musks’s initiative” and was “very inspired by Mr. Musk’s kindness and genuine determination to help and support this most difficult rescue operation.”
Many, however, took issue with Musk’s attempts to help, believing that he was focused more on generating publicity than really helping the soccer team. Anmar Mirza of the National Speleological Society’s National Cave Rescue Commission told Slate: “With all due respect to Mr. Musk, I am not sure that he or his engineers have a real good handle on exactly what they’re dealing with in this particular situation.”
BBC technology correspondent Rory Cellan-Jones stated: “Elon Musk is well known to have an eye for the headlines, but to be fair he only became involved after a message from one of his army of fans on Twitter. The fact that his company’s space technology and its much-vaunted tunneling skills proved irrelevant to the operation is a reminder that sometimes this tech superhero doesn’t quite match up to the Iron Man of his fans’ dreams.”