The first of Chile's 33 trapped miners are set to travel nearly half a mile through solid rock in a narrow, elevator-like shaft Tuesday, as their two month ordeal after a cave-in hopefully comes to a conclusion.

NBC News' Kerry Sanders is on the scene outside the San Jose mine in Copiapo, Chile and responded to readers questions about the miners' escape.

Questions like: "Can the miners get the 'bends' on the trip up?," "What is the worst case scenario?," "Who is the person who will go down initially to help the miners begin the ascent to the top?," and "What are those special socks for?"

Read Kerry's answers below to learn more about how the miners extraction is expected to happen.

Chat with NBC's Kerry Sanders about the Chilean miners rescue

Video: Countdown to a rescue

  1. Closed captioning of: Countdown to a rescue

    >>> good evening. they've been called 33 living miracles and the time can now be measured in hours until the capsule arrives in their underground home , and the first man ventures slowly toward the surface. that will leave 32 men behind, then that number, if everything goes well, will dwindle to one and then zero. and if it works, it will be the most intricate and successful underground rescue ever attempted. the world's attention is about to be focused on a small round mineshaft in south america and our own kerry sanders is there for the countdown and starts us from chile tonight. good evening.

    >> reporter: good evening, brian. a sign that these men are almost free, the single camera that will -- [ inaudible ] today, teams here conducted a test. the escape capsule traveled 20 feet without a problem, so they sent it down the shaft within feet of the trapped miners.

    >> we didn't send it down because we can risk that somebody can jump in.

    >> reporter: his good mood reveals the level of confidence here. the only reason the rescues are not under way is because some of the equipment is still being anchored into a concrete slab. [ bell rings ] celebrations began saturday when the shaft to the men was completed. an american team drilled down a half mile through some of the hardest rock on earth.

    >> we're just so happy we did have the chance to come down hire and make a difference with our technology. we're very thankful for that and extremely happy that it actually worked.

    >> reporter: soon, the escape pod will be hooked up to a heavy duty winch. the capsule travels down the shaft for the first 180 feet inside that pipe. past that, driven by gravity, it slides down the rock walls 1,857 feet through slight s turns. the trip up is expected to make no more than 15 minutes . with the steel pipes welded in place and glasses to shield their eyes from the bright sun, now headed down this afternoon, the miners started a special liquid diet , the same potassium astronauts take before liftoff. the 33 men are good to go, one miner has been jogging five miles a day. on average, the men have lost 20 pounds.

    >> health issues are also, and psychologically they are perfect to go.

    >> let's hope. from the scene, kerry sanders reporting tonight, starting us off from chile.


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