University of Essex Plans World’s Largest Space-Exploration Pool

COLCHESTER, U.K. — The University of Essex in Colchester is planning to construct the largest and deepest pool ever built for space exploration study. Blue Abyss, the company helping to plan and design the pool, hopes it will also serve as a facility for astronaut training, dive training and testing new sea technologies. This would include the university’s robotic fish and underwater remotely operated vehicles.

A crowd-funding website created by Blue Abyss outlines the mission of the project as creating a state-of-the-art space which will include diving and microgravity facilities as well as hyperbaric chambers. The plans also include locations for fake shipwrecks and cave simulations as well as a system to control lighting to emulate day or night.

Most importantly, however, it could potentially be used to simulate a space environment. The pool will serve as a research and development facility that will complement already-in-place astronaut-training centers. The Blue Abyss crowd-funding website also mentions the anticipated development of space tourism and the related opportunities the pool could provide.

“Ancillary courses that provide an insight into what astronauts go through would be a logical extension of the facility’s wider commercial offerings,” the website stated.

With dimensions of roughly 164-feet wide and 164-feet deep at its deepest point, the pool would be the largest on the planet. This has inspired professionals from well-known companies — such as GMW, 3PM, Pell Frishmann, Gardiner and Theobald — to get involved.

The project has received approval from European Space Agency Astronaut Tim Peake, who believes the pool could compete with — or even surpasses — facilities that are available in the United States or Russia. NASA’s Apollo Lunar Exploration Principle Investigator Walter Kuenegger also joined the project as a consultant.

Blue Abyss plans to get other large companies involved in the planning of the pool and hopes that the crowd-funding site will raise about $230,000 to cover costs of negotiations as well as to finalize the plans and survey the future site for the pool.