By Linh Pham/Getty Images
The rescue operation to finally get the trapped Thai soccer team out of their cave officially began on Sunday morning, as a team of divers, some of them former Thai military, started to lead the boys one by one back through the cave system, parts of which are completely submerged. At time of writing, six of the twelve boys have been rescued.
Back in the States, various thinkers and engineers have tried to come up with ways to rescue the boys, including drilling down into the cave from above (difficult to do since no one has a very accurate map of the inside), and trying to find a back entrance (nearly impossible given the dense vegetation in the jungle outside of the cave). Never one to back down from a challenge, Elon Musk has sent some of his engineers to Chiang Rai to aid in the rescue, and has been brainstorming ideas on Twitter.
On Saturday afternoon, Musk tweeted that he’d spoken to his engineers about possible escape pod designs and a tube that could inflate like a bouncy castle, allowing the boys to climb through the cave without having to submerge themselves. He also touted an “extremely robust” plan for a child-sized submarine whose oxygen is fed through parts taken from one of his Falcon rockets.
Greg Moore, a regional director for the National Cave Rescue Commission, told the New York Times that complicated rescues like this often inspire people to come up with intricate, bizarre solutions, and that that Musk’s child-sized bathysphere probably couldn’t make it through the cave’s narrowest passages.
Musk, however, isn‘t the only American who wants a role in this dramatic rescue operation:
With the rescue now underway, it’s unlikely that any of these ideas will be implemented unless the team is hit by rainstorms or other complications and has to stop. Monsoon season is approaching, and with it the possibility that the Tham Luang Nang Non cave will fill even more with water. Narongsak Osottanakorn, head of the rescue mission, told reporters on Sunday morning, “Today is D-Day.” The boys, along with their coach, have been trapped in the cave for more than two weeks, and rescuers are worried about their diminishing oxygen supply. A former Thai navy SEAL, Saman Gunan, lost consciousness and died on Friday while he was placing air tanks along the rescue route.