THE authorities dismissed the “tiny, kid-sized sub” the Tesla chief built to help save the trapped boys. But Musk has fired back.
TECH billionaire Elon Musk may have helped keep the lights on in Adelaide with super-sized batteries and his Hyperloop train could slash travel times, but the Thai Government gave him short shrift on his 11th-hour plan to rescue the stranded boys.
On Tuesday, he said he had just returned from the Tham Luang Nang Non cave complex , after delivering the rescue device.
“Mini-sub is ready if needed. It is made of rocket parts and named Wild Boar after kids’ soccer team,” he wrote.
But the head of the rescue mission dismissed the option in favour of sticking with the plan for experienced cave divers to help the boys swim out.
“Although his technology is good and sophisticated it’s not practical for this mission,” Mr Narongsak said.
Musk fired back at this claim, saying the former provincial governor was “not the subject matter expert” and sharing his correspondence with leader of the dive rescue team Richard Stanton.
“Right now, I have one of the world’s best engineering teams who normally design spaceships and spacesuits working on this thing 24 hours a day,” Musk’s email to Stanton dated July 8 read. “If it isn’t needed, that would be great to know.”
Stanton replied: “It is absolutely worth continuing with the development of this system in as timely a manner as feasible. If the rain holds out it may well be used.”
The tech entrepreneur said parts were being assembled for underwater testing before being put on a plane. He said the operating principle was the “same as spacecraft design — no loss of life even with two failures.”
In an ominous indication of just how precarious the rescue operation was, Stanton then sent another email: “We’re worried about the smallest lad please keep working on the capsule details.”
Musk’s engineers designed a metallic escape pod based on “feedback from Thailand,” using a large silver tube meant to be affixed to a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket. The person inside would not need to swim or know how to use oxygen bottles.
On Monday, Musk had tweeted a short video of the sub being tested in a suburban LA pool. Guided by divers at the front and rear of the craft, it was inched through a metal framework supposed to resemble the tight submerged spaces in the tunnel complex.
Each boy and their coach was fitted with a wetsuit, boots and full face mask with oxygen supplied from a tank carried by another diver.
Musk’s sub may have been a dud for this mission, but his battery in South Australia is firing on all cylinders.
The battery delivered 100 megawatts into the national electricity grid in 140 milliseconds.
“That’s a record and the national operators were shocked at how quickly and efficiently the battery was able to deliver this type of energy into the market,” then Energy Minister Tom Koutsantonis said.
The battery, in the state’s mid north, was switched on after being built by Musk’s company Tesla in less than 100 days following a series of blackouts in South Australia.