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underwater habitat, for humans, concepts, building

underwater habitat, for humans, concepts, building



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  1. Underwater habitat - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
    Underwater habitats are underwater structures in which people can live for extended periods ... and physiology, and were valuable as "proof of concept" constructs. ... usher in an age of ocean conservation through building public awareness.

    16 May 2010 – The human race only occupies about 30% of Earth's surface, namely its land masses. ... Underwater habitats have been a viable technology since the 1960s. .... to worry about something that their conceptual cousins, space stations, ... of microorganisms in the water, making it toxic to certain species of fish.

    Underwater Exploration - Science Encyclopedia - JRank
    In the 1960s, Cousteau started a series of experiments in building underwater habitats where people could work and live. These concepts were abandoned ...

    Lesson Plan Aquarius Technology: Building an Underwater Habitat ...
    File Format: PDF/Adobe Acrobat - Quick View
    Habitats. Focus Questions. • Why build an underwater habitat? • How does .... people can live for extended periods and carry out most of the basic human ... After they have tried these experiments and understand the concepts, have them ...

    Designing the Future: The Undersea Habitat 2030
    11 Apr 2006 – Designing the future, the undersea habitat, utilizing the sea and ocean for ... and erratic weather patterns around the world, affecting the human populations. ... We may have to build interconnecting climatic space domes between cities. ... If you are interested in my article to expand into concept for games, ...

    Underwater Human Habitats
    This page considers underwater human habitats such as homes, restaurants and ... to admire the depths of the ocean while making the most of the warm climate. ... Sky. dining complex is a one-of-a-kind over and under water dining concept, ...

    6 Underwater Living Spaces To Fire Up Your Dreams - Decoded Stuff
    Neptus 60 Cliff Habitat is a daring project thought out to be a residence placed in ... The Utter Inn is a very popular concept of building design, partly above, partly under the ... two people that would want to spend the night sleeping under water.

    Ocean Space Habitat: A new concept is born – News Watch
    10 Aug 2012 – Building Bridges to a Sustainable Energy… Dec. ... An underwater habitat is a physical structure to help people live and work beneath the sea.

    5 Incredible Underwater Habitats
    4 Oct 2008 – People are left homeless and destitute, with little to call their own. ... We look at five habitats underwater that show it is possibe to live ...

    The good, bad and ugly: Underwater architecture | Ecofriend
    16 Dec 2011 – Here humans can live for a longer period of time and also carry out most of their ... Many of the initial underwater habitats that were build with the same intention of ... This is an extremely fascinating concept of eco-architecture.



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Underwater habitats are underwater structures in which people can live for extended periods and carry out most of the basic human functions of a 24-hour day, such as working, resting, eating, attending to personal hygiene, and sleeping. In this context 'habitat' is generally used in a narrow sense to mean the interior and immediate exterior of the structure and its fixtures, but not its surrounding marine environment. Most early underwater habitats lacked regenerative systems for air, water, food, electricity, and other resources. However, recently some new underwater habitats allow for these resources to be delivered using pipes, or generated within the habitat, rather than manually delivered.[1]

An underwater habitat has to meet the needs of human physiology and provide suitable environmental conditions, and the one which is most critical is breathing air of suitable quality. Others concern the physical environment (pressure, temperature, light, humidity), the chemical environment (drinking water, food, waste products, toxins) and the biological environment (hazardous sea creatures, microorganisms, fungi). Much of the science covering underwater habitats and their technology designed to meet human requirements is shared with diving, diving bells, submersible vehicles and submarines, and spacecraft.

There have been numerous underwater habitats designed, built and used around the world since the early 1960s, either by private individuals or by government agencies. In that time they have been used almost exclusively for research and exploration, but in recent years at least one underwater habitat has been provided for recreation and tourism. Research has been devoted particularly to the physiological processes and limits of breathing gases under pressure, for aquanaut and astronaut training, as well as for research on marine ecosystems.



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Basic types of habitats

Underwater habitats are designed to operate in two fundamental modes.

  1. Open to ambient pressure via a moon pool, meaning the air pressure inside the habitat equals underwater pressure at the same level, such as SEALAB, and which makes entry and exit easy as there is no physical barrier other than the moon pool water surface
  2. Closed to the sea by hatches, with internal air pressure less than ambient pressure and at or closer to atmospheric pressure; entry or exit to the sea requires passing through hatches and an airlock

A third or composite type has compartments of both types within the same habitat structure and connected via airlocks, such as Aquarius (laboratory).

Conshelf I, II and III

Conshelf, short for Continental Shelf Station, was a series of undersea living and research stations undertaken by Jacques Cousteau's team in the 1960s. The original design was for five of these stations to be submerged to a maximum depth of 300 metres (1,000 ft) over the decade; in reality only three were completed with a maximum depth of 100 metres (330 ft). Much of the work was funded in part by the French Petrochemical industry, who, along with Cousteau, hoped that such manned colonies could serve as base stations for the future exploitation of the sea. Such colonies did not find a productive future, however, as Cousteau later repudiated his support for such exploitation of the sea and put his efforts toward conservation. It was also found in later years that industrial tasks underwater could be more efficiently performed by undersea robot devices and men operating from the surface or from smaller lowered structures, made possible by a more advanced understanding of diving physiology. Still, these three undersea living experiments did much to advance man's knowledge of undersea technology and physiology, and were valuable as "proof of concept" constructs. They also did much to publicize oceanographic research and, ironically, usher in an age of ocean conservation through building public awareness. Along with Sealab and others, it spawned a generation of smaller, less ambitious yet longer-term undersea habitats primarily for marine research purposes.

Conshelf I (Continental Shelf Station), constructed in 1962 was the first inhabited underwater habitat. Developed by Jacques-Yves Cousteau to record basic observations of life underwater, Conshelf I was submerged in 10 metres (33 ft) of water near Marseilles, and the first experiment involved a team of two spending seven days in the habitat. The two oceanauts, Albert Falco and Claude Wesly, were expected to spend at least five hours a day outside the station, and were subject to daily medical exams.

Conshelf Two, the first ambitious attempt for men to live and work on the sea floor, was launched in 1963. In it, a half-dozen oceanauts lived 10 metres (33 ft) down in the Red Sea off Sudan in a starfish-shaped house for 30 days. The undersea living experiment also had two other structures, one a submarine hangar that housed a small, two-man submarine referred to as the "diving saucer" for its resemblance to a science fiction flying saucer, and a smaller "deep cabin" where two oceanauts lived at a depth of 30 metres (100 ft) for a week. They were among the first to breathe a mixture of helium and oxygen, avoiding the normal nitrogen/oxygen mixture which when breathed under pressure can cause narcosis. The deep cabin was also an early effort in saturation diving, in which the oceanauts' body tissues were allowed to become totally saturated by the helium in the breathing mixture, a result of breathing the gases under pressure. Normally, this would prove fatal when the team returned to the surface, at which time reduced pressure would cause the helium to bubble out into the divers joints and tissues, afflicting them with the bends. The conventional solution would have been to subject the divers to lengthy and complex decompression; however, in this case the divers' instead breathed an oxygen-rich mixture of gases for a few hours before returning to the surface in order to purge the excess helium from their tissues.[citation needed] They suffered no apparent ill effects.

The undersea colony was supported with air, water, food, power, all essentials of life, from a large support team above. Men on the bottom performed a number of experiments intended to determine the practicality of working on the sea floor and were subjected to continual medical examinations. Conshelf II was a defining effort in the study of diving physiology and technology, and captured wide public appeal due to its dramatic "Jules Verne" look and feel. A Cousteau-produced feature film about the effort was awarded an Academy Award for Best Documentary the following year.

Conshelf III was initiated in 1965, six divers lived in the habitat at 102.4 metres (336 ft) in the Mediterranean near the Cap Ferrat lighthouse, between Nice and Monaco, for three weeks. In this effort, Cousteau was determined to make the station more self-sufficient, severing most ties with the surface. A mock oil rig was set up underwater, and divers successfully performed several industrial tasks.


SEALAB was developed by the United States Navy, primarily to research the physiological aspects of saturation diving.[2][3][4]

Tektite I and II

Tektite I habitat

The Tektite underwater habitat was constructed by General Electric and was funded by NASA, the Office of Naval Research and the Department of Interior.[5]

On February 15, 1969, four U.S. Department of Interior scientists (Ed Clifton, Conrad Mahnken, Richard Waller and John VanDerwalker) descended to the ocean floor in Great Lameshur Bay in the U.S. Virgin Islands to begin an ambitious diving project dubbed "Tektite I". By March 18, 1969, the four aquanauts had established a new world's record for saturated diving by a single team. On April 15, 1969, the aquanaut team returned to the surface after performing 58 days of marine scientific studies. More than 19 hours of decompression were needed to safety return the team to the surface.

Inspired in part by NASA's budding Skylab program and an interest in better understanding the effectiveness of scientists working under extremely isolated living conditions, Tektite was the first saturation diving project to employ scientists rather than professional divers.

The name Tektite generally refers to a class of meteorites formed by extremely rapid cooling. These include objects of celestial origins that strike the sea surface and come to rest on the bottom (note project Tektite's conceptual origins within the U.S space program).

The Tektite II missions were carried out in 1970. Tektite II comprised ten missions lasting 10–20 days with four scientists and an engineer on each mission. One of these missions included the first all-female aquanaut team, led by Dr. Sylvia Earle Mead. Other scientists participating in the all-female mission included Dr. Renate True of Tulane, as well as Ann Hartline and Alina Szmant, graduate students at Scripps Institute of Oceanography. The fifth member of the crew was Margaret Ann Lucas, a Villanova engineering graduate, who served as Habitat Engineer. The Tektite II missions were the first to undertake in-depth ecological studies.[6]

Tektite II included 24 hour behavioral and mission observations of each of the missions by a team of observers[7] from the University of Texas at Austin. Selected episodic events and discussions were videotaped using cameras in the public areas of the habitat. Data about the status, location and activities of each of the 5 members of each mission was collected via key punch data cards every 6 minutes during each mission. This information was collated and processed by BellComm[8] and was used for the support of papers written[9] about the research concerning the relative predictability of behavior patterns of mission participants in constrained, dangerous conditions for extended periods of time, such as those that might be encountered in manned spaceflight.

The Tektite habitat was designed and built by General Electric Space Division at the Valley Forge Space Technology Center in King of Prussia, Pennsylvania. The Project Engineer who was responsible for the design of the habitat was Brooks Tenney, Jr. Brooks also served as the underwater Habitat Engineer on the International Mission, the last mission on the Tektite II project. The Program Manager for the Tektite I project at General Electric was Bren Thompson, and the Program Manager for the Tektite II project was Brooks Tenney, Jr. The Tektite Project was led by Dr. Theodore Marton who worked for General Electric.


Exterior of Hydrolab
Inside Hydrolab

Hydrolab was constructed in 1966 and used as a research station from 1970. The project was in part funded by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). Hydrolab could house 4 people. Approximately 180 Hydrolab missions were conducted; 100 missions in the Bahamas during the early to mid 1970s, and 80 missions in St. Croix, United States Virgin Islands, from 1977 to 1985. These scientific missions are chronicled in the Hydrolab Journal.[10]

Dr. William Fife spent 28 days in saturation performing physiology experiments on researchers such as Dr. Sylvia Earle.[11][12]

The habitat was decommissioned in 1985 and placed on display at the Smithsonian Institution’s National History Museum in Washington, D.C.. The habitat is now located at the headquarters of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) in Silver Spring, MD.



See main article Aquarius.

Aquarius is presently one of the world's only three operational underwater laboratories. It is located adjacent to a coral reef in the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary.[13]


The MarineLab underwater laboratory is the longest serving seafloor habitat in history, having operated continuously in an unbroken service since 1984 under the direction of aquanaut Chris Olstad at Key Largo, Florida. The seafloor laboratory has trained hundreds of individuals in that time featuring an extensive array of educational and scientific investigations from US Military investigations to pharmaceutical development.

Beginning with a project initiated in 1973, MarineLab, then known as MEDUSA (Midshipman Engineered & Designed Undersea Systems Apparatus), was designed and built as part of an ocean engineering student program at the United States Naval Academy under the direction of Dr. Neil T. Monney. In 1983, MEDUSA was donated to the Marine Resources Development Foundation (MRDF), and in 1984 was deployed on the seafloor in John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park, Key Largo, Florida. The 8 X 16 - foot (2.5 X 4.9m) shore-supported habitat supports 3-4 persons and is divided into a laboratory, a wet-room, and a 5’ 6” (1.7m) transparent observation sphere. From the beginning, it has been used by students for observation, research, and instruction. In 1985, it was renamed MarineLab and moved to the 30-foot (9.2m) deep mangrove lagoon at MRDF headquarters in Key Largo at a depth of 27 foot (8.3m) with a hatch depth of 20 feet (6.2m). The lagoon contains artifacts and wrecks placed there for education and training. During 1993-95, NASA used MarineLab repeatedly to study Controlled Ecological Life Support Systems (CELLS). These education and research programs qualify MARINE-LAB as the world’s most extensively used habitat.

MarineLab is also used as an underwater lab for excursions and underwater lab training for recreational and sport divers who stay under the sea at the Jules Undersea Lodge. MarineLab is currently located right next to the Jules Undersea lodge which is actually the La Chalupa Research Laboratory converted into a luxury underwater habitat, features include a large movie selection and specialty menus, including underwater pizza delivered by a diver. There is a cable running along the bottom of the lagoon that divers can follow at night or in reduced visibility to reach MarineLab which is a short distance from the Jules Underwater Lodge. Basically, MarineLab is set up to do lab work and to serve as an underwater science classroom and the Jules Underwater Lodge is used as an underwater habitat base where the participants can stay over night, rest, relax and dine in comfort.

Marinelab was used as in integral part of the Scott Carpenter Man in the Sea Program.

La Chalupa Research Laboratory

La Chalupa research laboratory, now known as Jules' Undersea Lodge

In the early 1970s, Ian Koblick, president of Marine Resources Development Foundation, developed and operated the La Chalupa research laboratory, which was the largest and most technologically advanced underwater habitat of its time. Koblick, who has continued his work as a pioneer in developing advanced undersea programs for ocean science and education, is the co-author of the book "Living and Working in the Sea" and is considered one of the foremost authorities on undersea habitation.

In the mid 1980s La Chalupa was transformed into Jules Undersea Lodge in Key Largo, Florida. Jules' co-developer Dr. Neil Monney formerly served as Professor and Director of Ocean Engineering at the U.S. Naval Academy, and has extensive experience as a research scientist, aquanaut, and designer of underwater habitats. Jules' has had over 10,000 overnight guests in its 30 years of operation. Today many certified divers who are interested stay in the Jules Underwater Lodge, and some who meet the skill and bottom time requirements and participate in underwater experiments in the MarineLab can elect to receive specialty diver recognition from PADI or NAUI as a Recreational Aquanaut. This is the only recreational Aquanaut qualification available worldwide. Today Aquanaut Hotel guests must scuba dive to get down to the hotel, and a nearby landbase offers diving lessons for people who are unfamiliar with the activity. Years ago non-scuba diving guests were taken down to the lodge breathing air pumped down from the surface through a long hose similar to a garden hose but this practice was discontinued and now all guests must scuba dive to the lodge entrance five fathoms below. The air hose system has been replaced by a hooka rig featuring modern scuba regulator second stages and is often used by guests as well as the operations crew to get back and forth to the lodge without donning scuba gear.

La Chalupa was used as the primary platform for the Scott Carpenter Main in the Sea Program, an underwater analog to Space Camp. Unlike Space Camp, which had to utilize simulations, participants performed scientific tasks while using actual saturation diving systems. This program, envisioned by Ian Koblick and Scott Carpenter was directed by Phillip Sharkey with operational help of Chris Olstad. Also used in the program was the MarineLab Underwater Habitat, the submersible Sea Urchin (designed and built by Phil Nuytten), and an Oceaneering Saturation Diving system consisting of an on deck decompression chamber and a diving bell. La Chalupa was the site of the first underwater computer chat, a session hosted on GEnie's Scuba RoundTable (the first non-computing related area on GEnie) by then Scott Carpenter Main in the Sea Director Sharkey from inside the habitat. Divers from all over the world were able to direct questions to him and to Commander Carpenter.

Scott Carpenter Space Analog Station

Galathée Underwater Laboratory and Habitat - 1977

The Scott Carpenter Space Analog Station was launched near Key Largo on six week missions in 1997 and 1998.[14] The station was a NASA project illustrating the analogous science and engineering concepts common to both undersea and space missions. During the missions, some 20 aquanauts rotated through the undersea station including NASA scientists, engineers and director James Cameron. The SCSAS was designed by NASA engineer Dennis Chamberland.[14]

Lloyd Godson's Biosub

Lloyd Godson's Biosub was an underwater habitat, built in 2007 for a competition by Australian Geographic. The Biosub [15] generated its own electricity (using a bike), its own water, using the Air2Water Dragon Fly M18 system, its own air (using algae that produce O2). The algae were fed using the Cascade High School Advanced Biology Class Biocoil.[16] The habitat shelf itself was constructed by Trygons Designs.

Vent-Based Alpha

Vent-Based Alpha is an underwater habitat proposed by Phil Nuytten. It is a self-sufficient deep-sea mining colony. It would be powered by thermal energy from black smokers.[17]


The first underwater habitat built by Jacques Rougerie was launched and immersed on 4 August 1977.[18] The unique feature of this semi-mobile habitat-laboratory is that it can be moored at any depth between 9 and 60 metres, which gives it the capability of phased integration in the marine environment. This habitat therefore has a limited impact on the marine ecosystem and is easy to position. Galathée was experienced by Jacques Rougerie himself ( [19]


Aquabulle, Underwater Laboratory - 1978

Launched for the first time in March 1978, this underwater shelter suspended in midwater (between 0 and 60 metres) is a mini scientific observatory 2.8 metres high by 2.5 metres in diameter.[20] The Aquabulle, created and experienced by Jacques Rougerie, can accommodate 3 people for a period of several hours and acts as an underwater refuge. A series of Aquabulles were later built and some are still being used by laboratories. [18] [21]


Hippocampe, Underwater Habitat - 1981

This underwater habitat, created by a French Architect, Jacques Rougerie, was launched in 1981 to act as a scientific base suspended in midwater using the same method as Galathée.[22] Hippocampe can accommodate 2 people on saturation dives up to a depth of 12 metres for periods of 7 to 15 days, and was also designed to act as a subsea logistics base for the offshore industry. [18]

In popular culture



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