Sure, space exploration gets all the headlines. Seeing a rocket blasting off to the outer reaches of the cosmos is exciting stuff. But when it comes to true adventure – exploration of the unknown – it’s hard to hold a candle (or rocket) to inner space, the Earth’s oceans, which cover 71% of the surface. The crushing pressure of water combined with the unforgiving margin of error makes ocean exploration pretty exciting stuff.
Just ask the folks at OceanGate, Inc. in Everett, Washington. In 2019, the company set out to create a carbon composite submersible that could dive to 12,500 feet. Known as the Titan, the goal was to qualify the submersible to be able to take visitors down to see the remains of the Titanic.
Titan, however, was only strong enough to qualify to 10,000 feet, a setback for the company that ended up propelling it to bigger and better things.
The goal – to reach Titanic – hasn’t changed, but the company is embarking on a new set of submersibles known as Cyclops 3 and Cyclops 4 with far more capabilities. Currently under construction, the two vessels are designed to reach a depth of 15,000 feet. An infusion of $18 million in new capital is funding the effort. Cyclops 3 will be ready by the end of 2020, Cyclops 4 soon after.
Designing and constructing a submersible that can handle the crushing force of the ocean’s depths isn’t easy, said CEO Stockton Rush. “If you design to Titanic depth, half the ocean is yours. If you design to [nearly 20,000 feet], the ocean is yours. That’s why our objective is to get to [nearly 20,000 feet]. There’s almost nowhere we can’t go.”
Nearly 300 adventurers and researchers have traveled in OceanGate’s submersibles to date, demonstrating that they are not only safe, but up to the task of diving to extreme depths. The average depth of the ocean is 12,500 feet, allowing endless applications of the company’s submersible technologies.
In addition to visiting the Titanic to understand why Rose didn’t make room for Jack on that makeshift raft, the company hopes to allow customers to see remnants of the Battle of the Coral Sea and Hudson Canyon, the ocean’s version of the Grand Canyon.
Read more in the Puget Sound Business Journal.