World News

Chile escape capsule "Phoenix" ready for world tour

SANTIAGO (Reuters) - It is the silent hero of the miraculous rescue of Chile’s 33 miners, but now Phoenix -- the metal escape capsule that hoisted them from the depths -- is to go on world tour as a celebrity in its own right.

The capsule was watched by hundreds of millions people worldwide as it rose like the mythical bird from the ashes ferrying the miners to safety one by one after 69 days trapped half a mile below ground.

“They’ve asked us to take the capsule on world tour as part of an exhibition, with a video,” Interior Minister Rodrigo Hinzpeter said.

The capsule, painted in the red, white and blue of Chile’s national flag, is just wider than a man’s shoulders and looks like a miniature space rocket. U.S. space agency NASA advised the government on its design.

In a complex but flawless operation under Chile’s far northern Atacama desert, the miners were hauled out through 2,050 feet of rock in the capsule, which was equipped with communications equipment and oxygen tanks.

Over the 24-hour rescue operation, the capsule’s paintwork was banged and scratched inside the escape shaft as it pulled the miners and 6 rescue workers to the surface.

A live video feed from deep in the mine showed the capsule arriving deep in the mine, capturing imaginations across the world. A mock up of the capsule featured prominently in CNN’s blanket coverage.

Writing by Simon Gardner