Plans have been floated for a 50m deep research, training and development pool at Essex University, a facility that would be the largest of its kind in the world.
Development partner Blue Abyss said the pool, which will be 50m long, will be the UK and Europe’s premier marine and space research facility offering the ability to simulate outer space and deep sea environments.
The scope of the facility, showcased at the UK Space Conference in Liverpool, ranges from human spaceflight research programmes to environmental monitoring.
The facility will also specialise in training in advanced commercial diving techniques and free diving alongside research into the marine environment, human physiology, remotely operated vehicle and aerospace development.
The University and Blue Abyss will be working over the coming year to develop plans to locate the facility at the Knowledge Gateway research and business park at the Colchester Campus.
The Blue Abyss project already involves GMW as architects, 3PM as project managers, Pell Frischmann as civil engineers and Gardiner and Theobald as quantity surveyors. Prof Walter Kuehnegger, one of NASA’s Apollo Lunar Exploration Principle Investigators, has also joined the Blue Abyss team as a consultant.
“All the ingredients are here; the location near to Stansted Airport and the North Sea offshore industry via Harwich; a superb campus site and an excellent research base within the University’s academic departments,” said John Vickers, managing director of Blue Abyss in a statement. “We are now intent on developing links with a number of the world’s highest profile organisations and companies and see this as a key step towards realising our objectives.”
Tim Peake, the next European Space Agency (ESA) astronaut, commented: “I support Blue Abyss and sees this future facility as something that does not yet exist in Europe and that would compete with, or potentially even surpass, what is available in the United States and Russia. In my view this will be an outstanding ‘European facility’.”