After 12 years of finalizing details and garnering institutional support for his deeply ambitious ocean-going research vessel, Jacques Rougerie has announced that construction on the SeaOrbiter is slated to begin in October. Currently the center of attention at France’s Expo 2012 exhibit in Yeosu, South Korea, the $43 million vessel will also be the world’s tallest ship at 58 meters. Half of it will be submerged underwater to allow scientists to conduct close research of the planet’s most unexplored spaces and the entire project will be powered with renewable energy.
The education and media director of the SeaOrbiter project, Ariel Fuchs told the BBC that “All technical issues are resolved, all the modeling is done.” Finally, after twelve long years, architect Jacques Rougerie will see his concept built and hopefully drifting the ocean currents as soon as next year.
Fuchs explained that the science community will be the first to have access to the vessel so that they can spend extended periods underwater. This will allow them to “observe, to undertake research missions, like marine biology, oceanography and climate issues,” he said.
Inspired by explorers and researchers such as Jacques Cousteau and Sylvia Earle, the project has received significant support from the NASA community as well, including Dan Goldin and astronaut JeanLoup Chretien.
In addition to using wind, solar and wave energy to power the vessel, the SeaOrbiter team is working with researchers from the European Defense Space Systems conglomerate to create a biofuel that will provide most of its energy. The European Space Agency and other high-profile organizations have also lent their support.
The ultimate aim of the project, according to Fuchs, is to make evident just how important the ocean is to the balance of the world’s ecosystems.
all images courtesy of SeaOrbiter
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