Elon Musk waded into last week’s cave rescue of a Thai youth soccer team, tossing off impressively science-y sounding rescue tips on Twitter and showing up at the mouth of the cave, "kid-sized" submarine in tow. After Thai authorities turned down his assistance and successfully rescued the boys themselves, critics-including a member of the recovery team-say that the Tesla and SpaceX founder used the cave rescue as an opportunity for a publicity stunt.
"It had absolutely no chance of working," said British diver Vern Unsworth of Musk’s submarine. Unsworth, who lives in Thailand and regularly dives in the Tham Luang caves where the boys were trapped, was integral to the team’s rescue. He dismissed Musk’s sub as totally unfit for the job. "The submarine, I believe, was about five foot six long, rigid, so it wouldn’t have gone round corners or round any obstacles. It wouldn’t have made the first 50 meters into the cave."
Cave rescuer on Musk: “It was a PR stunt. It had no chance of working.” pic.twitter.com/uPgRMQLkRx- Quoth the Raven (@QTRResearch) July 13, 2018
When his interviewer pointed out that Musk had entered the caves himself, Unsworth shrugs, looking disgusted. Musk "was asked to leave very quickly," he said. "And so he should have been."
On Twitter, Musk described the criticism as having "shaken" his view of people.
This reaction has shaken my opinion of many people. We were asked to create a backup option & worked hard to do so. Checked with dive team many times to confirm it was worthwhile. Now it’s there for anyone who needs it in future. Something’s messed up if this is not a good thing.- Elon Musk (@elonmusk) July 11, 2018
Musk's last attention-getting aid work came in the aftermath of Hurricane Maria, when he proposed that Tesla rebuild Puerto Rico's demolished electrical grid. Though the company sent a thousand of its battery packs to the island, many Puerto Ricans still don't have reliable electricity. But Musk has already turned towards the next headline-grabbing humanitarian crisis-he's now promising to fix Flint’s tainted water.
As for the kiddie submarine, Musk decided to leave it in Thailand, in case authorities in that country might one day need it. Or they could use it as a rocket-escape pod.
With some mods, this could also work as an escape pod in space- Elon Musk (@elonmusk) July 8, 2018
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