Survival capsules to be manufactured in Japan

By Sara Bruestle | Feb 26, 2014
Courtesy of: Survival Capsule LLC Engineers from Survival Capsule LLC in Mukilteo are developing a 10-seater Tsunami Survival Capsule, now that the company's two-seater is set up for manufacturing in Japan.

Manufacturing of a capsule designed by a team of local aerospace engineers to help people survive a tsunami is scheduled to start next month in Japan.

Three two-seater capsules, in kit form, were shipped on Feb. 12 and will arrive in Tokyo on March 2.

The Tsunami Survival Capsule kits will be assembled in March after delivery to three Japanese manufacturers located where people are at high-risk for an earthquake and tsunami.

Survival Capsule LLC in Mukilteo has seven more orders from its Japanese partner, Toho Merchantile Co., which will have the capsules completed in Japan and sell them there.

“We offered to make kits if they took orders to allow them to assemble them in Japan as kind of an offset package,” said Julian Sharpe, president and CEO of Survival Capsule. “Boeing does the same thing.

“I call them ‘IKEA kits,’ because that’s basically what they are.”

The company is now seeking to raise $50,000 through a crowdfunding campaign to develop a 10-seater capsule. It has about $1,700 raised so far.

The design and production of the two-seater was half funded by Survival Capsule and half by Toho, Sharpe said.

“This campaign will allow many, many people to be directly involved with a program which shall eventually save thousands and thousands of lives,” Sharpe said.

The $15,000 two-seater capsule is bright orange, sphere-shaped and designed to save people from the devastation of a tsunami or other natural disaster by allowing them to ride it rather than run from it.

The aluminum sphere “shelters” are designed to withstand impacts, fire and submersion during a tsunami.

The kits for the two-seater capsules were provided by manufacturers in Mukilteo and Kent, however future orders will be completed by Japanese manufacturers in the Mie, Okoyama and Shizuoka prefectures.

The capsules hold 2-10 people and are priced starting at $15,000 to $35,000, depending on size and options.

“Once we get more orders, they’ll come down in price,” said Scott Hill, director of engineering for Survival Capsule, adding that the two-seater is the most expensive per seat.

Design features include watertight doors, portholes, seats with five-point harness belts and head restraints, and a thermal blanket between the inner and outer shells in case of fire.

The capsules have emergency beacons, transponders, and hooks for helicopter pick-up to aid in recovery. They can also be tethered using a metered steel cable.

Storage compartments underneath each seat hold life vests, food and water rations, a first aid kit, flashlights and air supply.

Four engineers from IDEA International Inc., with the help of a tsunami expert, developed the Survival Capsule after the 2011 9.0 magnitude earthquake and tsunami along the Tohoku fault, which killed nearly 16,000 people.

IDEA Inc. (Innovative Design, Engineering and Analysis) is an aerospace engineering company that specializes in stress analysis for Boeing and Airbus. It is the parent company of Survival Capsule LCC.

The Survival Capsule team put their engineering skills to work when they designed the capsules.

“We didn’t know anything about tsunamis, so we brought [an expert] on and we worked with him to set up a test program to understand the environment in which our capsule would have to exist and survive,” Sharpe said.

Sharpe’s vision is that the capsule, which is patented, will be bought by the Japanese government, as well as schools, hospitals, airports and companies, to protect people from the devastation of a tsunami. He projects that 1,000 to 10,000 capsules will be sold.

“We’re excited, but stressed,” Hill said. “There’s still a long way, there’s still a lot of unknowns. It’s always a day-by-day like, ‘OK, where are we going to next?’

“We’ve realized that the funding is the biggest thing holding us back.”

After the Japanese market, Sharpe said the company hopes to expand to other markets around the world, including Washington, Oregon and California.

Another fault, the Nakai Trough, is predicted to generate a 9.1 magnitude earthquake and a 30-40 foot tsunami, and kill an estimated 325,000 people.

Follow the team on Twitter at @survivalcapsule or find them Facebook. Donate to the Survival Capsule crowdfunding campaign at


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