NASA arrives to aid trapped Chilean miners

Farmington Mine Disaster

Drilling is under way for a rescue shaft that will allow the Chilean miners to be lifted to safety. Image from Wikimedia Commons.

The world has been patiently watching the unfolding saga of the Chilean miners trapped in a mine. It was established early on that some miners in the Chilean mine had survived, but it would take a long time before they could be rescued. Officials and advisers from NASA have been dispatched to the site to offer any advice they can to the miners and rescue crews. It is anticipated that it could take months to retrieve the men. Drilling a rescue shaft has begun, but it will be slow going.

NASA arrives in Chile

The National Aeronautics and Space Administration has sent staff to the site of the Chilean mine disaster in an advisory role. The role of NASA engineers and scientists will be assisting the delivery of necessary supplies to the miners trapped 2,200 feet underground. According to the Washington Post, there are three four inch-wide tubes that reach down to the chamber the 33 men are in. One tube pumps in oxygen, another sends supplies, and the third tube for video conferencing, so miners can communicate with loved ones. The problem is how to get everything they will need down a four inch wide tube.

Words of encouragement and advice

The Washington Post recently conducted an interview with Jerry Linenger, a former NASA astronaut. Linenger was the sole American trapped aboard the Mir space station in 1997, when a fire trapped him and two cosmonaut colleagues in space for four months. Linenger stressed that the men need to keep themselves busy, but also not to get expectations too high. He stressed that expectations that are too high lead to depression and despair if things don’t go the way they hope. He cautioned that ideas of a clear leader taking charge of the situation underground is imprudent, as the miners need to keep a cooperative mindset.

Camp Hope

Rescue workers, family members and support staff are in an encampment around the mine called Camp Hope. Meanwhile, the mining company is begging for forgiveness and near bankruptcy. The company is not paying the trapped miners’ wages.

Further Reading

Washington Post on NASA role

Washington Post interview with Jerry Linenger

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