The San José rescue was called a miracle by many, though in earthly terms saving the miners came down to human perseverance and technology thrust into overdrive.
While all but one of the men who stuck it out underground were Chilean, extracting them called on expertise from several countries.
A US company was called on to handle one of three simultaneous drilling efforts, with the T130 drill. Key equipment came from an Irish-based company. A Canadian firm did back-up drilling.
Cable and winding gear were brought from Germany. The space agency NASA dived in with expertise on people in confined places.
NASA engineers also suggested features for the rescue capsule. These ideas included using friction-easing Teflon, alignment in the shaft, a protective airflow mesh roof and a harness in case of fainting.
The food and communication delivery system dubbed “la paloma” (the dove) was designed by a Chilean expert in mining rescue.
With NASA pointers, the Chilean navy delivered the Phoenix escape capsule (‘Fénix’ in Spanish). Test models were bashed around as refinements were made. The ultimate lifter was painted the red, white and blue of Chile’s flag, and worked faithfully to pull the 33 men the 700 metres to the surface. At last the Chileans were up, up and away.
Chile rescue thanks to multi-national ingenuity