Occupation: NASA engineer
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After 69 days trapped below ground, Florencio Avalos was the first of the 33 now famous Chilean miners to emerge, tucked tightly into a capsule just 21.5 in. in diameter. Avalos may not have realized it at the time, but he had Clinton Cragg, an American engineer, to thank. The capsule, named the Phoenix, was Cragg's own design, created after he was handpicked by NASA as one of four experts dispatched to the site of the cave-in. At 14 ft. and weighing nearly 1,000 lb., Cragg's contraption successfully made the 2,050-ft. journey in and out of the mine shaft to collect each of the stranded Chilean miners.
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