Taking the Sea as Home: Approaching the International Ocean Space Station

In 1963, a yellow dish-shaped submarine returned from the depths of the Red Sea and docked at an undersea research center located 26 miles from the coast of Port Sudan and 33 feet underwater. It was the legendary explorer and oceanographer Jacques Cousteau who boarded this submarine. His Oscar-winning documentary “A World Without Sun” has fascinated countless people. Cousteau’s slender body crawled out of the submarine and entered Station 2 on the Continental Shelf, which served as the home and laboratory for five seabed observers for a month. Cousteau said: “This is the first time a submarine has an undersea base.”

Station Two on the Continental Shelf is a starfish-shaped habitat with bunk beds and infrared lamps for heating. Cousteau proved that humans can live on the seabed for a long time. Its 4 rooms extend from the center, which is a major improvement to Station One on the Continental Shelf. Station One was built in 1962. It is a 16-foot-long steel cylinder with a diameter of 8 feet. It can only accommodate two people. It is suspended 33 feet of water near the coast of Marseille, France. Station 3 is like a flash ball in a discotheque with black and yellow squares. It was born 2 years later. The station provides a self-sufficient environment for 6 divers, including Cousteau’s son Philip, and is located under the Mediterranean Sea. 330 feet. The mission of Cousteau’s “Continental Shelf” station was funded by the French petrochemical industry. Only after the completion of Station Three on the Continental Shelf, the mission was terminated. After that, Cousteau shifted his focus from oil-funded research to marine protection.

Following the continental shelf station, a large number of single-mission underwater habitats have emerged, but these underwater innovations have not left much trace. To some extent, due to the shift in public interest to space exploration, more funds have been lost, causing some stations to be dragged out of the sea, and some have become coral diving sites.

Dreams passed down
Cousteau’s grandson Fabien hopes to reverse this situation. He created the Fabien Cousteau Marine Learning Center, a non-profit organization dedicated to protecting and preserving the Earth’s oceans, coastal areas and marine habitats, and will build the world’s largest submarine research station.

The station is named after Proteus, the prophet of Greek mythology, and will be located 60 feet deep in a biodiversity-rich marine reserve off the coast of Curaçao. It is like the subsea version of the International Space Station. It is the first underwater research base built in recent decades and will open a new chapter in the tortuous history of seabed research.

Fabien learned scuba diving when he was 4 years old. As a marine explorer, environmental advocate and subsea laboratory worker, he was trained to live and work underwater, but what frustrated Fabien most was that scuba diving, as a research tool for marine scientists, has a huge Limitations. The safe time for scuba diving in deep water is limited to an average of 2 hours per day. But now, with the Proteus station, “we suddenly have a house on the sea floor, where we can dive for 10-12 hours a day for research, discovery and shooting.”

The U.S. Wave Meteorite II Station was built in 1970. It was once located at a depth of 50 feet in Lamshu Bay in the U.S. Virgin Islands. It consists of two 20-foot-high silos connected by a waterproof tunnel and dotted with circles. Top-shaped windows. In 2012, European Space Agency astronaut Timothy Peake held a video conference with the British Space Environment Conference in Aberdeen, Scotland at the Aquarius Reef base. As a member of NASA’s NEEMO 16 mission on asteroid exploration, he conducts space simulations at this base.

Oceanographer Sylvia Earle was a pioneer in testing the feasibility of underwater habitats. She saw the prospects in Fabien’s vision: “Living underwater gives us the gift of time and becoming a coral reef dweller. Wonderful perspective. You are no longer just a visitor.”

In 2014, Fabien spent 31 days at the Aquarius Reef Base, the only surviving submarine research station. The 400-square-foot site was built in 1986 and is located on the sea floor off the coast of Key Largo in the Florida Keys. He personally experienced the challenges of living underwater: high humidity, low light, no fresh food, inability to exercise, and extreme isolation. And he “want to solve all the shortcomings and bring as many elements of the above world as possible back to the most advanced marine research center, so that future exploration and research will be more beneficial.”

With very few exceptions, the previous underwater laboratories (more than 65) were all cylindrical and were divided into different small areas for life and work. The Proteus station was designed by the famous industrial designer Weiss Beha and his company fuseproject, which is very different.

Not long ago, Beha showed his design for the Proteus station. Proteus Station has 4,000 square feet and will be 10 times the size of Aquarius Reef. It is a circular, two-story structure that rotates around a curved ramp connecting the two floors in the center. Beha believes that the submariner “will live under tremendous pressure, not only the pressure of sea water, but also the pressure of science.” To alleviate this, he designed a social space in the center, with different areas extending around it, including living areas, research laboratories, medical areas and bathrooms.

Natural light is another challenge of 60 feet below sea level, where the visible spectrum is halved. Therefore, the circular two floors will deviate from each other, allowing portholes and skylights to get as much natural light as possible. Indoors, full-spectrum lamps will meet human needs for at least 10 minutes of ultraviolet radiation per day.

To facilitate ocean exploration, the structure will also include a moon pool, or “liquid gate” called by Jacques Cousteau. This specially designed opening, located at the bottom of the habitat, will allow divers to exit through a pressurized chamber. Unlike space stations or submarines, the internal air pressure of underwater structures is kept equal to the external water pressure to prevent seawater from entering the habitat. This makes it easy for divers to slide out and use “saturation diving” for underwater research-this is a technology to reduce the risk of diver’s disease. After staying at any depth for 24 hours, the human body will be exposed to inert gases such as nitrogen. Saturated, seabed observers can stay in the underwater habitat indefinitely. When they return to the surface, no matter how long they stay under the sea, the time required for decompression is the same. Two workers from Lorne State Community College in the United States set a record of 73 days in the Jules Hostel in Florida, which was once a research base and later turned into an underwater hotel.

Proteus Station is still in the conceptual stage. Fabien raised $135 million to build the base and operate it for the first three years. Beja and Fabien have discussed the use of synthetic construction techniques to build shells and 3D printed coral bricks to create a living coral reef on the building. Beha said that during construction, “the building structure needs to be filled with water so that it sinks and reaches the bottom of the sea.”

In the design of the Proteus station, Beha referred to the way of underwater habitats depicted in science fiction novels. He said, “Jules Verne’s book and observation of Cousteau’s underwater adventures inspired me. A key part of imagination.”

A history of adventure deep into the sea
In 1872, Verne popularized the concept of “underwater life” with his epic novel “Twenty Thousand Miles Under the Sea”. Sixty years later, American scientist William Bibby and engineer Otis Barton turned science fiction into reality. In the 1930s, the two jointly developed a spherical diving device. This small pressurized cabin hung on the ship took the two into a depth of more than 3,000 feet off the coast of Bermuda, setting off a wave of deep sea exploration.

August Piccard pushed the development of deep-sea submarines to new heights. The Swiss physicist and inventor, who had risen to record heights in a balloon pressure cabin, realized that there is not much difference between an airship and an underwater vehicle. Picard no longer uses cables to lift the submarine, but uses detachable ballast and a petrol-filled pontoon, similar to a helium-filled airship airbag. In 1960, his invention took himself and the American oceanographer Don Walsh on a journey to the deepest part of the known earth-the 35814-foot-deep Pacific Mariana Trench.

Under the guidance of these pioneers, mankind has entered the deep sea, but these advances have brought a new question to the surface: can we also live in it? Jacques Cousteau’s documentary filmed his life on the Calypso research ship, sparking a public fascination with ocean and underwater life. Fabien said: “When I was a kid, the Calypso was another home. This is an amazing classroom. It makes me realize that these pioneers are pushing their limits every day.”

The continental shelf station triggered a wave of underwater construction. From the Baltic Sea to the Gulf of Mexico, single-task submarine habitats are blooming everywhere. From 1964 to 1969, the U.S. Navy’s Undersea Laboratory No. 1, No. 2, and No. 3 descended to deeper and deeper depths of 193 feet, 203 feet, and 600 feet, respectively. Until the tragic death of a diver, the Undersea Laboratory III ended. In 1968, the Helgeland station built by the German company Dr?ger became the first underwater laboratory to be built in cold waters and harsh sea conditions. It was used in the Baltic Sea, the North Sea and the Gulf of Maine. In 1969 and 1970, NASA, in cooperation with the Navy and the Department of the Interior, launched the first state-funded marine scientist project: Pentite 1 and 2. The pterolite habitat is located 50 feet deep in Limshu Bay in the U.S. Virgin Islands. It was built by General Electric and consists of two 20-foot high silos connected by a waterproof tunnel and dotted with domes. -Shaped windows.

Fabien Cousteau’s “Proteus” station will have 4,000 square feet and consist of a circular two-story structure.

The tektite station was eventually salvaged from the water, but NASA’s interest in underwater architecture continues to this day. NASA’s Extreme Environmental Mission Operation (NEEMO) is dedicated to simulating life on the International Space Station and testing new concepts for future interstellar missions. It sends a team of astronauts, engineers, and scientists to live on the island of Key Largo. Inside the bottle reef base. In this extreme environment, movement is limited in a confined space, water provides a near-zero gravity experience, and the astronauts conducted a simulation of space exploration.

Fabien estimates that at the peak of deep-sea exploration, there may be 20 truly livable underwater structures. Today, the Aquarius Reef Base is still the only underwater research station in operation in the world. It is a proud survivor and has a history of 34 years. Fabien said: “After the 1970s, ocean exploration has not developed like space exploration.” He hopes that through the Proteus station, public interest can be transferred back to the ocean. He is not the only one who hopes so.

“Jacques Cousteau” in architecture
French architect Jacques Loggeri dedicated his entire career to underwater architecture, and regarded Jacques Cousteau as his driving force in architecture and oceanographic pursuits. Since 2009, his foundation has held competitions for young architects to design underwater and space habitats every year. Luo Zheli believes that our future depends on the blue economy, as defined by the World Bank “sustainable use of marine resources to promote economic growth, improve people’s livelihoods and employment, while maintaining the health of the marine ecosystem.” But he believes that first, We need a blue society. “We must inspire the younger generation. This enthusiasm must be instilled in them. They must have a sense of participation.”

Luo Zheli has designed dozens of underwater habitats, 4 of which have been built. The first is Galathe, a 56-ton, semi-mobile settlement that was launched near the coast of Japan in 1977. Before Galathe, most buildings were built on the seabed. Luo Zheli changed this situation and designed a structure with variable ballast, allowing anchors to be suspended at different depths (from 30 to 200 feet) without affecting the underwater ecosystem.

The habitat he later designed was even more fluid, and reached the culmination of his most ambitious design of the “Marine Space Station” project to date. It is a semi-submersible ship, built for ocean navigation. The design is based on the seahorse, which floats vertically and moves with ocean currents.

Luo Zheli believes that “the sea is an incredible resource and a prospective field for startups worldwide. We still don’t understand the abyss zone. We don’t understand hydrothermal vents. We know very little.” According to the National Oceanic Administration of the United States According to the data, more than 80% of the ocean is still “unmapped, unobserved and undeveloped.” Even the parts that have been explored are not drawn at a resolution sufficient to detect objects such as aircraft wreckage or submarine volcanic tops. Since the start of modern ocean exploration, the ocean has undergone drastic changes. Large areas are now completely devoid of oxygen, resulting in the current “death zone” being four times as large as in 1950. Fabien said: “When I was a teenager, I would go to the Florida Keys. It was a playground full of colors, textures and vibrancy. Now, by comparison, it is a ghost town.”

Underwater habitats such as the Proteus Station or the Marine Space Station can help discover new species, understand how climate change affects the ocean, and can test green energy, aquaculture, and robotic exploration. The laboratory of the world’s leading Proteus station will allow the most advanced research to be carried out on-site and will not allow samples to be degraded during transportation. At the same time, its full-scale video production facilities will provide continuous live broadcasts for educational purposes. Mark Patterson, Professor and Associate Dean of Northeastern University in the United States, said: “For the Proteus station, the concept of the combination of robots and humans is particularly attractive.” His research focuses on the development of civilian infrastructure and marine transmission. A sense of autonomous underwater robot. “This method of working with humans and swimming fast and strong robots will overcome the problem that has plagued oceanography since the time of the British Royal Ship Challenger: the rate of ocean changes exceeds our observation capabilities.”

Sixty years after Jacques Cousteau filmed his adventures in the Red Sea, ocean exploration has not yet reached its full potential. When Cousteau’s yellow diving dish rose from the darkness, he said: “We have been living in the embrace of the sea. The sea embraces us, but we have only taken the first step into a new space. Without the sun In this world, more adventures are still calling the submariners.”