The capsule used to rescue 33 miners who were trapped for 69 days in a mine in Chile during 2011 has gone on display in London at the Science Museum in South Kensington. By showing the capsule at the museum, we hope to draw attention to the technical and engineering challenges that the rescue team tackled during this extraordinary operation.”
The steel capsule, 3.9m (12.7ft) tall and 54cm (1.7ft) wide, known as Fenix 2, will be on show at the Science Museum in South Kensington. The 460kg Fenix 2 was one of five built by Chilean Navy engineers to winch up the miners, one at a time. The 33 men were stuck 625m (2,050ft) below ground when part of the mine in San Jose collapsed on 5 August 2010.
The capsule, which had communication equipment and retractable wheels to help its movement through the shaft, also had enough oxygen-enriched air to last the 20-minute journey to the surface. Katrina Nilsson, from the Science Museum, said: “I’m sure we can all remember the moment when the first miner was pulled to the surface after being trapped for almost 10 weeks.
The capsule will be on display until 13 May.
The capsule was specially built to rescue 33 miners who were trapped underground at the San José mine, Chile in October 2010. The 3.9m capsule is made of steel and measures 54cm wide. All of the men were rescued from the mine 700m below after being trapped for 69 days – surviving longer underground than anyone on record.
Katrina Nilsson, Contemporary Science Manager, Science Museum, said “We’re honoured to display the Chilean rescue capsule at the Science Museum – it’s an icon of the unprecedented rescue mission of the 33 miners. I’m sure we can all remember the moment when the first miner was pulled to the surface after being trapped for almost ten weeks. By showing the capsule at the museum, we hope to draw attention to the technical and engineering challenges that the rescue team tackled during this extraordinary operation.”
The capsule was fitted with enough oxygen-enriched air to last the 20 minute journey to the surface, as well as communication equipment and retractable wheels to help it run smoothly up and down the mine shaft. It weighs 460kg, is painted red, white and blue (Chilean flag colours) and is fitted with an emergency release mechanism so if the capsule got stuck, the miners could winch back down into the mine. It was designed by the Chilean Navy and built by Chilean Navy engineers.
The capsule, on show at the Science Museum until 13th May, is a replica of the Fenix 2 that rescued the miners and was also built by the Chilean Navy. The display highlights the extraordinary technical challenge of the rescue, which involved hundreds of engineers, technicians and scientists.
Venue: The Science Museum, Exhibition Road, South Kensington, London SW7 2DD . Opening Times: 10am – 6pm . Free Entrance
See the BBC report on this exhibit at the Science Museum here.