Seen from above, the mountainous national park directly above Tham Luang Nang Non, the Great Cave of the Sleeping Lady, appears tranquil — like someone lying on their side, if they were furred with trees and ran the along much of the length of Thailand’s border with Myanmar. It hardly seems like the site of a two-week-long, 10,000-person rescue operation that would pit the resolve of at least one government against the near-constant rain of the country’s monsoon season, in a contest to save the Wild Boars, a local boys soccer team. It’s unlikelier still as a battleground for international public opinion about Elon Musk, the billionaire founder of Tesla, which produces luxury electric cars, and SpaceX, which stages private rocket flights for the American government.

Nevertheless, it was. Two weeks ago, a week into the world watching rescue efforts progress, Musk announced he would step in to help. He’d ordered his engineers at SpaceX and the Boring Company, which aims to use tunnels burrowed under cities to clear traffic on the streets above, to head to Thailand to see if they could find a way to get the kids out. The engineers decided to repurpose a liquid oxygen transfer tube from one of SpaceX’s rockets as a child-sized submarine, eventually simulating a cave rescue with divers in a pool in Los Angeles. The sub — which Musk named Wild Boar, after the soccer team — eventually made it to Thailand near the end of the rescue effort.

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