If you’re like me, it was hard not to watch the rescue of the miners in Chile without some heavy-duty emotion. No one has ever survived living that far underground for that long — it’s a real human achievement on several levels. The Obama Administration is being strangely modest about it, but the fact is that an American Presidency led by a black man authorized one of his agencies NASA, which is also run by a black man — former astronaut Charles F. Bolden Jr. — to help the Chilean government rescue their citizens.
It seems strange not to take just a little credit. No one wants to take anything away from the Chileans who showed incredible passion, dedication and ingenuity. It’s certainly a matter of national pride: 40% of the Chilean economy is related to mining.
Yet it’s also true that NASA scientists, engineers, psycologists and doctors, among the best in the world, also played a strong part in keeping the miners safe and healthy before, during and after their rescue. Given this is election season, I think it would be smart for the Obama administration to trumpet America’s ability to help in this crisis, especially on an historic event that is neither red nor blue but global. If there’s a way to do it that builds our relationship with Chile rather than damages it, Barack Obama and General Charles Borden should step forward (when appropriate) to showcase U.S. international cooperation, generosity and scientific prowess.
Video below is of the last miner being rescued plus the Chilean miners rescue. Man I cannot wait to see the movie version of this amazing story of faith, courage, hope, science, spirit and technology.
Read this AOL News article for more info on NASA’s critical role during the crisis, arriving within a week of the miners’ discovery underground. Here’s a few snippets:
“NASA is in the business of building unique, one-of-a-kind vehicles,” Cragg told AOL News. “I thought we could help.”
A drill finally broke through to the miners’ underground chamber on Saturday, and rescuers began bringing the men up to the surface late Tuesday.
Cragg, 55, is part of a four-man team NASA dispatched to Chile in late August after the Chilean government asked the space agency for assistance. Its other members included two doctors, Michael Duncan and James Polk, and a psychologist, Al Holland.
But the Chileans had not yet figured out how to actually bring the men back up to the surface. Cragg met Chilean Navy Cmdr. Renato Navarro — also a submarine captain — who was directing the team of Chilean naval engineers charged with creating the rescue vehicle. Though they had surveyed the site, they had not gotten far on the actual design. Cragg offered to pitch in.
“They knew what the diameter was going to be and the maximum height for the thing,” he said. “But not much else. It was a pretty fluid situation.”
Cragg returned to his office at NASA’s Langley Research Center in Virginia and assembled about 20 NASA engineers to come up with a design. Using the same practices used in designing spacecraft, the group took three days to compile a list of 75 elements.
NASA’s medical experts weighed in, and other design elements were added: an oxygen tank, a light and a flat space in the bottom of the capsule for miners to stretch their legs.
Cragg sent the list of design elements down to Chile and heard back that most of them were incorporated into the final design. Except for one: NASA gave the capsule a typical NASA-like name: the Escape Vehicle. The Chilean navy engineers, not improving on matters, christened it the Rescue Capsule.
I hope the speculation about Bolden’s exit from NASA are just that. We’ll see…if so, at least he’ll go out on a high note, perhaps.
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