The engineer spirit of Elon Musk

Elon Musk
In the past week, a Thai children’s football team has touched the hearts of people all over the world. The football team consists of 12 boys aged 11-16 and a 25-year-old coach who disappeared in late June. Although they were discovered by a joint search and rescue team consisting of Thailand, the United States, the United Kingdom, China and Australia a few days later, It is still difficult to safely rescue them.
What trapped them was Thailand’s fourth largest cave, “Tham Luang Non)”. The cave was very large and complex. Coupled with the rising water level caused by heavy rains, the rescue work was once deadlocked and could only be temporarily relied on professionalism. Cave divers deliver food and oxygen to them. However, this approach has led to the unfortunate sacrifice of a former Thai Navy diver.
Terrain Complex Cave Route (BBC)

After Elon Musk, who was on the other side of the globe, learned the news through netizens, some of them couldn’t hold their own “Iron Man Heart.” Enthusiastic, he sent a tweet on July 4, saying that if necessary, he was very willing to help the Thai government. For example, the mining company has “advanced ground penetrating radar” and has strong “burrowing” technology.
This is not an empty talk. Although there is very little information about the cave data, Musk still throws a possible solution: a nylon tube with a radius of 1 meter is inserted into the cave and then inflated. Make it swell like a naughty castle, creating a conduit for kids to pass. After that, he continued to improve his design in communication with netizens.
Musk’s original idea

However, Musk also realized that this idea was somewhat “unrealistic.” After all, the situation on the spot was “more complicated.” He had too little information. In order to better understand the cave situation and provide more help, he then sent a team of engineers from the boring company and SpaceX to travel to Thailand on July 7 to investigate the actual terrain, give advice to the rescue team, contribute, wisdom and technology.
Of course, our “Silicon Valley Iron Man” will not slow down. Using data and information from field engineers, Musk said on Twitter on Saturday, “continuous discussions with cave divers and experts to try to create an escape cabin design that may be safe enough. It is also creating an airlocked inflatable The passage, although the situation on the scene is very tricky, may not be used, but it is not bad, it is worth a try.
Rescue submarine made by Musk

The final rescue design is much like a “submarine”. The main body is made up of “Falcon rocket’s liquid oxygen pipe”. It is small, light and strong, and can be carried by two divers and can pass through the narrowest cavern. Musk then said that he would work with SpaceX engineers overnight to create the design, “to fight for work by midnight on Saturday and then to Thailand.”
The rescue operation has progressed as early as Saturday night in the United States, and a rescue plan has been established. A rescue diver tied the safety rope to the child, one hand hugged the child’s oxygen cylinder, the other hand grasped the guide rope, and the other diver was responsible for lighting the child behind the temple and the two, one after the other. Escort children to swim out of the cave.
However, a similar approach to the rescue provided by Musk recently is being tested in Thailand, hoping to play a role in the follow-up rescue.
Schematic diagram of rescue methods (BBC)
Musk knew the dynamics of the rescue operation in the first place. While praising the rescue team, he did not give up the design of the submarine but insisted on completing the design and testing of the project. “Although this time it will not be used, it may be useful to encounter similar situations in the future. Or it can be used as an escape cabin for spaceships.”
Finally, on Sunday morning in US time, Musk issued a test video of several submarines in a pool in Los Angeles. Two divers in one video, one after the other, carried the submarine and marched forward in the water. There is also a video showing the test team’s process of opening the submarine. Unexpectedly, an adult man is lying in the tested submarine! This shows that the design of the rescue submarine is authentic, reliable and effective.


The speed of the progress of the Musk has to be admired, perhaps it is this kind of serious and enthusiastic work that has made him reach the height of today. From the establishment of the project to the analysis of the actual situation to the consideration of a variety of alternatives, and finally to the successful manufacture and testing of the prototype, it took only three days.
In this incident, there are also voices that the high-profile CEO once again “packaged” himself with public events, but in fact, Elon Musk also showed his valuable engineer spirit to some extent: Creativity, superb execution and the dream of using technology to change the world. As he replied on Twitter, “Maybe I am a narcissist, but I am at least a useful narcissist.”

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Nick Wang

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