Monday, December 16th, 2019

Colossal Ocean Explorer reaches build stage one

Published on September 16, 2015 by   ·   No Comments

Colosal_0002_2012 - SeaOrbiter_Sous-Marin

Likened to a space ship for the seas, SeaOrbiter is a futuristic, self-sustaining, floating marine laboratory.  It has been designed to stay at sea permanently and will allow long-term observation to be carried out by up to 20 live aboard crew – both above and below sea level.

With a draft of 31 metres and an air draft of 27 metres, this is an enormous vessel which boasts no less than 12 decks – six below sea level and six above.  The upper half dozen decks contain all of the communications, the command bridge and a scientific wet lab.  Below decks it gets a bit more interesting with both pressurised and surface-atmosphere living quarters.  The pressurised quarters can be used by saturation divers to allow for longer times below the surface.

Colosal_0003_2012 - Coupe SeaOrbiter-Zoom copia

Deep sea closed environments are very similar to those of spacecraft and the study of the sea and space tend to go hand in hand.  It should therefore come as no surprise that SeaOrbiter has support from both NASA and the European Space Agency.  In fact the subsea pressurised areas of SeaOrbiter will also be used by astronauts as a space simulator as conditions are similar to those found in space.

SeaOrbiter will also house subsea exploration devices that will be able to dive to a depth of 1,000 metres and a diving drone capable of descending to 6,000 metres, which will allow mapping of the abyssal plain.

SeaOrbiter is the brainchild of internationally renowned French architect, Jacques Rougerie, who states that SeaOrbiter “is a synthesis of more than 30 years of innovative research in marine and subsea architecture.”

Rougerie seems to be a bit of a polymath as he studied at the Oceanographic Institute of Paris, the University of Vincennes for Urban Planning and the School of Arts and Crafts in the 1970s, before qualifying as a DPLG architect in 1972.  Once he graduated he began to develop a number of sea-orientated projects including a number of subsea habitats.

Colosal_0002_2012 - SeaOrbiter_Sous-Marin

“The oceans”, continues Rougerie, “are a source of extraordinarily rich biodiversity, of a magnitude that we can’t even quite fathom yet.  We have to treat our oceans with care, as we could be in desperate need of them in the very near future.”

 Among the habitats he has created are Galathée and Aquabulle that can be suspended in midwater at depths of up to 60 metres and act as mini scientific observatories or shelters for deep sea divers.  He also designed Hippocampe which was launched in 1981 and can accommodate two people on saturation dives of depths of up to 12 metres for as long as 15 days.  In addition to these habitats he also created Aquascope and Aquaspace, trimarans of variable buoyancy, which act as observation centres for marine biologists.

Rougerie is a bit of a hands-on designer and has lived in many of his subsea habitats, famously participating in the world record achievement of living in a pressurised capsule for 71 days under the sea.  He also has a number of iconic marine projects under his belt including Pavilion of the Sea in Kobe, Japan, Nausicaa National Sea Centre in Boulogne sur Mer, and Océanopolis in Brest.

 A total of 35 million euros is needed for the construction of SeaOrbiter.  Of this, 70% has already been raised.  In addition, the Company turned to crowdfunding for 1% of the budget (325,000 euros), not simply to raise funds but to also raise public awareness of the project.  This six-figure sum would enable them to build “The Eye of SeaOrbiter”, the uppermost deck, which represents the keel-laying for the vessel.

 They are hoping that the construction of the “Eye”, which was completed in May 2015, will show the scope of the design and ensure the remaining 30% needed for the SeaOrbiter project will be funded.

Colosal_0000_Jacques Rougerie with SeaOrbiter Eye

Jacques Rougerie with the SeaOrbiter “Eye”

 Rougerie is inspired by the imaginary work of Jules Verne, and he has adopted his motto, “Anything one man can imagine, other men can make real.”  If his past is anything to go by, you can be sure you’ll see SeaOrbiter in an ocean near you in the not too distant future.

 And for more information about the great man himself visit:

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