While Seattle billionaire Jeff Bezos is funding an effort to make human space travel possible, another local company wants to send people in the other direction.
Everett-based OceanGate has teamed up with the University of Washington’s Applied Physics lab to build a five-person submarine that would travel to almost 2 miles below the ocean’s surface.
When completed in 2016, it will be the first deep-sea manned submersible project for the UW.
The submarine, named Cyclops, has a carbon-fiber hull that can take passengers to almost 10,000 feet below the surface. That’s deeper than all but a handful of existing subs.
There are about 600 military subs worldwide, but only about 100 certified civilian subs, and most of those are on private yachts or in storage.
“Most people don’t appreciate there are not very many private or commercial subs,” Stockton Rush, CEO of OceanGate said in a statement.
The carbon-fiber hull is shaped like a bullet that can plunge down to depth in less than 60 minutes. Once the vessel reaches depth, it rotates to its cruising orientation. The passenger seats pivot in order to stay upright.
The front viewing area, for which the vehicle is named, is designed as a 5-foot-wide dome of 4-inch-thick glass. Passengers will sit inside the dome to have a 180-degree view.
Rush has his own company that now charters two submarines for exploration, research, commercial use and deep-water filming.
He says researchers pay two-thirds as much as commercial clients would be willing to pay for the experience.
“To make a submersible economically viable you need to be able to serve multiple users so you have the volume to keep costs low,” Rush said. “The key today for big projects is you’ve got to have multiple revenue streams.”
Adventure travelers, would you rather go up in space or under the sea for a casual look around?
By LINDA THOMAS
I’m fine on land