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Thailand’s Navy: Musk’s Mini-Sub Might Come In Handy One Day

REUTERS/Joe Skipper

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Chris White Tech Reporter
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Thailand’s Navy dismissed tech entrepreneur Elon Musk’s mini-sub idea during a recent rescue mission, but Thai officials said Thursday the watercraft might be useful one day.

Musk constructed a small submarine from spare SpaceX Falcon parts to help save a 12-member soccer team stuck in the flooded Tham Luang cave. Rescuers finished yanking members from the cave Tuesday without help from the submersible.

Maj. Gen. Chalongchai Chaiyakham, the deputy commander to Thailand’s Third Army, told reporters Wednesday that Musk’s contribution would be appropriate for use in open water, but not in areas of a cave with winding tunnels and small coves.

Another Thai Navy official downplayed the sub’s usefulness. “I assure you that the equipment he brought to help us is not practical for our mission,” Narongsak Osottanakorn, the head of the rescue mission, told reporters Tuesday. “Even though the equipment has state of the art technology, it does not fit our mission in the cave.”

Musk sent 10 engineers from SpaceX, Tesla, his electric car company and the Boring Company to Thailand to train Navy SEALs how to operate the machine. (RELATED: Officials Ignored Musk’s Mini-Sub And Instead Used Navy Seals To Save Soccer Kids)

The sub’s aluminum shell weighs 90 pounds and has four ports on the front and rear and has an oxygen tank attached. Musk said in a tweet Monday that the pod “could also work as an escape pod in space.” Thai officials went with the less complicated plan.

Thai Navy SEALs conducted the rescue operation. The rescue mission receiving international attention and support to retrieve 12 boys and their soccer coach began Sunday, using a team of 90 divers — 40 from Thailand and 50 from overseas. Musk, meanwhile, defended his decision to help with the cave rescue mission.

He said on Twitter Tuesday that engineers from his rocket company, who built the transfer tube, said they were “absolutely certain” the underwater vehicle could complete the entire journey.

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