Fénix capsules

Fénix capsules
Fénix 2 capsule on display at the Atacama Regional Museum in Copiapó.

The Fénix capsules were three metallic containers that were used for the rescue of 33 trapped miners after the 2010 Copiapó mining accident.[1] The capsules were constructed by Astilleros y Maestranzas de la Armada Chilena (ASMAR), (Shipyards and Arsenals of the Chilean Navy), who named it Fénix (Phoenix), after the legendary bird which consumed itself in fire and returned to life from the ashes.



A color diagram depicting the capsule with a miner and text describing the features of the pod
Diagram of the rescue capsule "Fenix" class and the miner equipment used in the Copiapó accident of 2010 rescue.

The Fénix capsules were designed by the Chilean Navy, in collaboration with the United States space agency NASA. They have a diameter of 54 centimetres (21 in), and have eight wheels located on the top and the bottom, with a damping system for mobility in the pipeline. The Fénix capsules have a harness to hold the occupant, an oxygen supply, and a microphone with speakers, which were used to connect the miners with the rescuers at the surface during the rescue.

Officially, three prototypes of the capsule were created. The Fénix 1 had a larger diameter than the other two capsules and was used in tests in the shaft created by the T-130 drill, where it descended to a depth of 610 metres (2,000 ft).[2] Fénix 2 was operated with an Austrian pulley system and was used throughout the rescue of the miners. Fénix 3 was held in reserve and not used. The Commander-in-Chief of the Chilean Navy, Admiral Edmundo González Robles said that ASMAR had also constructed a fourth capsule, that was not taken to Copiapó, and that the Fénix capsules were going to be patented.[3]

Several major online news media organizations produced illustrations of the basic Fénix design.[4][5]

Capsule after the rescue

After the rescue, possession of the Fenix 2 was the subject of a dispute between the Government of Chile, ASMAR and the Municipality of Copiapó.[6] The Government announced a tour of the capsule all over the country,[7] starting with its exhibition in the Plaza de la Constitución in Santiago, the capital of Chile.[8]

Fénix 1 was exhibited at Expo Shangai 2010.[9] One of the capsules is currently on display at the National Museum of Natural History in Washington, D.C. for a special exhibition titled "Against All Odds: Rescue at the Chilean Mine", which began on August 5, 2011.[10]

Auction experts estimate that the Fénix 2 could be worth up to US$1 million. The senior valuer for auctioneers Dominic Winter in Gloucestershire, England said "The capsule is a 21st-century icon and symbolizes many things including the triumph of hope and the human spirit over adversity, teamwork and technology over nature and the myriad of uplifting stories of the 33 miners and their families. The capsule will be recognized by the whole world for decades to come and would be a major tourist attraction for any science or popular culture museum, which is its most logical home."[11] Since August 3, 2011, the Fénix 2 capsule is displayed at the Atacama Regional Museum in Copiapó.[12]

Images related to the Fénix class rescue capsule
The fifth rescuer, Patricio Sepúlveda, is in the rescue capsule and is being lowered into the San José Mine, during "Operación San Lorenzo".  
Color image of the fifth rescuer, Patricio Sepúlveda, is in the rescue capsule and is being lowered into the San José Mine, during "Operación San Lorenzo".
Fénix-2 capsule on display in front of La Moneda presidential palace in Santiago  
Fénix-2 capsule on display in Santiago in October 2010  

See also

Portal icon Chile portal
Portal icon Mining portal
Portal icon Disasters portal


  1. ^ "Fénix, la cápsula metálica en la que saldrán los mineros" (in Spanish). El Mundo (Spain). October 12, 2010. http://www.elmundo.es/america/2010/10/12/noticias/1286917669.html. Retrieved October 27, 2010. 
  2. ^ "Apuestan a iniciar el rescate a las 00:00 del miércoles". La Nación (Chile). October 10, 2010. http://www.lanacion.cl/apuestan-a-iniciar-rescate-a-las-00-00-horas-del-miercoles/noticias/2010-10-11/121519.html. Retrieved October 27, 2010. 
  3. ^ "La Armada patentará cápsula Fénix que rescató a los 33 mineros" (in Spanish). El Mercurio OnLine. October 19, 2010. http://www.emol.com/noticias/nacional/detalle/detallenoticias.asp?idnoticia=442373. Retrieved October 27, 2010. 
  4. ^ Fenix 2 Rescue Capsule, side view, opened, ABC News Online Graphic, 14 September 2010
  5. ^ Fenix 2 Rescue Capsule, top view, opened, ABC News Online Graphic, 14 September 2010
  6. ^ "Disputa por la Fénix 2". CNN Chile. October 16, 2010. http://www.cnnchile.com/nacional/2010/10/16/disputa-por-la-fenix-2/. Retrieved October 27, 2010. 
  7. ^ "Gobierno anunció gira de la "Fénix 2" por zona afectada por el terremoto". La Nación. October 21, 2010. http://www.cooperativa.cl/gobierno-anuncio-gira-de-la-fenix-2-por-zona-afectada-por-el-terremoto/prontus_nots/2010-10-21/140239.html. Retrieved October 27, 2010. 
  8. ^ "Instalan cápsula Fénix 2 frente a La Moneda para ser exhibida desde hoy". La Nación. October 19, 2010. http://latercera.com/noticia/nacional/2010/10/680-300633-9-instalan-capsula-fenix-2-frente-a-la-moneda-para-ser-exhibida-desde-hoy.shtml. Retrieved October 27, 2010. 
  9. ^ "La Fénix 1 ya se exhibe en la Expo Shanghai". La Nación. October 23, 2010. http://www.lanacion.cl/la-fenix-1-ya-se-exhibe-en-la-expo-shanghai/noticias/2010-10-23/102755.html. Retrieved October 27, 2010. 
  10. ^ "Embassy of the United States Santiago, Chile - Exhibition Against All Odds: Rescue at the Chilean Mine (August 2011)". Chile.usembassy.gov. 2010-08-05. http://chile.usembassy.gov/2011press0802-33exhibition.html. Retrieved 2011-08-06. 
  11. ^ Chile miners: rescue capsule could be worth $1million, London Daily Telegraph, Laura Roberts, 15 October 2010
  12. ^ Paul-Edouard Martin (August 3, 2011). "Con emoción instalaron la cápsula Fénix II en el Museo Regional de Atacama" (in Spanish). El Diario de Atacama. http://www.soychile.cl/Copiapo/Sociedad/2011/08/03/30302/Con-emocion-instalaron-la-capsula-Fenix-II-en-el-Museo-Regional-de-Atacama.aspx. Retrieved August 13, 2011. 

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