Students Staff

13 April 2016

Top astronaut backs Blue Abyss ‘space pool’ project at Knowledge Gateway

UK astronaut Tim Peake took a break from his work on the International Space Station to share his excitement on Facebook and Twitter about the Blue Abyss project which could be developed at the University of Essex’s Knowledge Gateway research and technology park.

Blue Abyss wants to create the world's deepest and largest research, training and development pool at the Colchester Campus site to support outer space and deep sea exploration.

Tim is living and working onboard the International Space Station for six months and is regularly using social media to share his thoughts. His Facebook post shared with his close to 500,000 followers said: “Exciting new project ‘Blue Abyss’ to build the world’s largest indoor pool in the UK – serving human spaceflight and much more”.

Tim Peake Facebook post

Blue Abyss has just released an early look at 3D footage, created by Cityscape Digital, which provides an internal view of the pool, which will be the world’s largest at approximately 35,000m³. The facility will be able to replicate the effects of weightlessness and low gravity in environments like those found on Moon and Mars

The pool is aimed at supporting research within the commercial diving, Remote Operated Vehicle (ROV), Autonomous Unmanned Vehicle, (AUV), life science and human spaceflight sectors. However, with the majority of Blue Abyss staff also being keen divers, the facility aims to encourage people of all ages and abilities to discover the joys of exploring our marine environments through recreational diving, as well as providing the UK with an innovative, aquatic-based STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Maths) education centre.

University of Essex Registrar Bryn Morris said: “We’re continuing to work with Blue Abyss to help deliver this ambitious project at our Knowledge Gateway research and technology park. Although Blue Abyss is at an early stage, it has the potential to enhance the UK’s research capacity for space exploration significantly while also hugely benefitting research work in other areas such as human physiology.

“The Blue Abyss project fits well with our research strengths in big data, robotics, health and human sciences, and human performance. It also offers the potential to develop new employment opportunities on the Knowledge Gateway and in the surrounding area by supporting SME spin-outs and driving economic growth.

"Such a significant research facility provides further opportunities for the University of Essex to work with other leading academics in the region through the Eastern Academic Research Collaboration (ARC), and with partner institutions in London.

“Blue Abyss would not only support the European space programme, but also be a platform for testing and evaluating new technology to drive forward research and innovation, with the impact of this research stretching from future space exploration to medical care.

“The feedback from potential partners has been encouraging so far and we are supporting Blue Abyss to draw-up a full proposal for the development within the agreed two-year timeframe. As part of our support we are offering Blue Abyss office accommodation on our Colchester Campus and our Research and Enterprise Office alongside our Director of Finance are supporting Blue Abyss to identify potential sources of initial funding.”

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