The SeaOrbiter will allow researchers to swim into parts of the deep ocean, where no one has gone before.
If you want to do deep sea ocean research today, you’ll have to take a journey to the Florida Keys, where the world’s last remaining underwater research lab, the Aquarius, is housed.
But that’s soon about to change. When it’s completed, the SeaOrbiter, a spaceship-like underwater vessel, will become the first ocean lab where researchers can live 24/7 over long periods of time. (The Aquarius, in comparison, goes on missions for 10 days on average). It’s the Starship Enterprise of the sea, exploring parts of the ocean where no man has gone before.
The $43 million SeaOrbiter project is the result of a 30 year research and design process. Created by sea architect Jacques Rougerie and guided by experts like Jean-Michel Cousteau and former NASA chief Daniel Goldin, the vessel will hold a crew of up to 22 people when it launches. Its first trip will be to Monaco, where Rougerie hopes that researchers will gather new details about the vast underwater areas surrounding the country.
He writes in an email: “The SeaOrbiter is the synthesis of everything that we have been able to do at sea: it is at the same time a moving habitat and a dynamic launching point for submarine research and exploration. It will not replace oceanographic boats or exploratory submarines. Instead, it’s another way to explore and better comprehend the underwater universe and bring human life at sea to another level on a 24/7 basis and over long periods.”