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SeaOrbiter construction to begin October 2012

The SeaOrbiter concept recently completed its industrial design phase. It is an ocean-going research ship – which is part submarine.

French architect Jacques Rougerie has spent over a decade trying to launch the idea the SeaOrbiter – a unique live-aboard, ocean-going vessel – part submarine, part research ship. The concept recently completed its industrial design phase, and construction is supposed to begin in October of 2012.

SeaOrbiter is designed so that 50% of the vessel remains underwater at all times.

The underwater chamber will go 31 meters (102 feet) below the ocean surface.

SeaOrbiter is currently a centerpiece for France’s pavilion at Expo 2012 in Yeosu, South Korea.

It will have room for 18 scientists to live and work.

SeaOrbiter is planned to be 58 meters (63 yards) high – a bit more than half the length of an American football field. The anticipated cost: around US$52.7 million.

Rougerie has said his inspiration for SeaOrbiter came from ocean explorer Jacques Cousteau and oceanographer Sylvia Earle, whose experimental Tektite underwater capsule laboratory sailed in 1969.

According to CNN, famed oceanographer Sylvia Earle is a vocal supporter of the SeaOrbiter project. Other supporters include former NASA Administrator Dan Goldin and astronaut Jean-Loup Chretien. Plus SeaOrbiter has the support of the European Space Agency (ESA) to help develop its necessary technologies and onboard designs.

The vessel will generate power for life-support systems - and propulsion to avoid other ships and storms - from renewable energy, including solar, wind and wave power. But primarily, say its designers, it will drift upon the ocean currents.

There will be an open air terrace for researchers to observe the flight of migrating birds.

The crew will utilize oceanographic observational and sonic equipment, plus links to Earth-orbiting satellites. The goal is real-time monitoring of the ocean, and its creatures.

SeaOrbiter's designers speak of a new standard of scientific communication that allows researchers to track and monitor marine life in real time.

GizMag reported SeaOrbiter’s designer, architect Jacques Rougerie, as saying:

This vertical vessel drifts in the currents hosting 18 oceanauts who will observe the life of the oceans on a permanent basis. Marine life will naturally aggregate … under its hull.

Bottom line: SeaOrbiter – part submarine, part research ship – recently completed its industrial design phase. Construction is slated to begin in October of 2012. A model of SeaOrbiter is currently on display in the French pavilion at Expo 2012 in Yeosu, South Korea.

Sources: GizMag via CNN

Deborah Byrd

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