Elon Musks SpaceX making kid-sized submarine for Thailand cave rescue

Elon Muskon Saturday said SpaceX engineers are hours away from finishing a tiny kid-sized submarine that could be used to extract a soccer team trapped inside a Thailand cave.

The 12 boys and their coach had gone into the cave on an excursion after a soccer game on June 23 and became stranded by heavy rains and flooding.

Via Twitter, Musk has beenupdatingprogress on finding a solution.

Got more great feedback from Thailand. Primary path is basically a tiny, kid-size submarine using the liquid oxygen transfer tube of Falcon rocket as hull. Light enough to be carried by 2 divers, small enough to get through narrow gaps. Extremely robust, he tweeted Saturday.

Musk said theconstructionwill be complete in about 8 hours, then 17-hour flight to Thailand.

On Saturday, the boys sent notes to their parents through divers. The hand-written letters from the boys soccer team, ages 11-16, were filled with love and hope.

NBC News reportedfood supplies for the youth soccer team accompanied by one adult include mostly high-calorie gels, so some boys letters showed a desire for tastier food in their letters home.

The youngest boy, Tun, 11, wrote, Mom and Dad, please dont worry, I am fine … Get ready to take me out for fried chicken. With love.

Im fine, but its a little bit cold, dont worry and dont forget my birthday, one boy wrote.

Navy divers found the 12 boys and one adult, 25-year-old coach, Ekaphol Ake Chantawong, werealive Mondayafter a nine-day search in the Tham Luang cave complex in Chiang Rai.

The team had gone into the cave on an excursion after a soccer game on June 23 and became stranded by heavy rains and flooding.

The coach, who has faced criticism for taking the boys out in the cave, also wrote an apology note addressed to his players parents.

To all the parents, all the kids are still fine. I promise to take the very best care of the kids,The Guardian reportedChantawong wrote in his letter. I want to say thanks for all the support and I want to apologize to the parents.

Rescuers have to dive through flooded tunnels for six hours to reach the team and it takes another five hours to return to the entrance,CNN reported.

The danger became more apparent when aformer naval diver died Fridaywhile placing air tanks in the cave.

The former Thailand Navy SEAL, Saman Kunan, died from lack of oxygen while attempting to return to a command center located a mile inside the cave, government officials said.

Earlier this week, officials said itcould take monthsto get the team out of the deep cavern because floodwaters have blocked the exit. And rescuers said the boys may have to scuba dive to get out.

Chiang Rai Gov. Narongsak Osot-tanakorn, who commands the rescue operation, said at an overnight news conference that the boys who are being trained to swim cannot dive at this time and added rescuers mustmove quickly because we cannot wait until the rain, which may come in days. Rescuers are also looking at alternatively drilling down and hoisting the team out of the cave, but the governor said that would be extremely difficult.

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SpaceX to Send Privately Crewed Dragon Spacecraft Beyonthe Mo Next Year

We are excited to announce that SpaceX has been approached to fly two private citizens on a trip around the Moon late next year. They have already paid a significant deposit to do a Moon mission. Like the Apollo astronauts before them, these individuals will travel into space carrying the hopes and dreams of all humankind, driven by the universal human spirit of exploration. We expect to conduct health and fitness tests, as well as begin initial training later this year. Other flight teams have also expressed strong interest and we expect more to follow. Additional information will be released about the flight teams, contingent upon their approval and confirmation of the health and fitness test results.

Most importantly, we would like to thank NASA, without whom this would not be possible. NASAs Commercial Crew Program, which provided most of the funding for Dragon 2 development, is a key enabler for this mission. In addition, this will make use of the Falcon Heavy rocket, which was developed with internal SpaceX funding. Falcon Heavy is due to launch its first test flight this summer and, once successful, will be the most powerful vehicle to reach orbit after the Saturn V Moon rocket. At 5 million pounds of liftoff thrust, Falcon Heavy is two-thirds the thrust of Saturn V and more than double the thrust of the next largest launch vehicle currently flying.

Later this year, as part of NASAs Commercial Crew Program, we will launch our Crew Dragon (Dragon Version 2) spacecraft to the International Space Station. This first demonstration mission will be in automatic mode, without people on board. A subsequent mission with crew is expected to fly in the second quarter of 2018. SpaceX is currently contracted to perform an average of four Dragon 2 missions to the ISS per year, three carrying cargo and one carrying crew. By also flying privately crewed missions, which NASA has encouraged, long-term costs to the government decline and more flight reliability history is gained, benefiting both government and private missions.

Once operational Crew Dragon missions are underway for NASA, SpaceX will launch the private mission on a journey to circumnavigate the Moon and return to Earth. Lift-off will be from Kennedy Space Centers historic Pad 39A near Cape Canaveral the same launch pad used by the Apollo program for its lunar missions. This presents an opportunity for humans to return to deep space for the first time in 45 years and they will travel faster and further into the Solar System than any before them.

Designed from the beginning to carry humans, the Dragon spacecraft already has a long flight heritage. These missions will build upon that heritage, extending it to deep space mission operations, an important milestone as we work towards our ultimate goal of transporting humans to Mars.