The World's Largest Indoor Pool is About to Begin Construction

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The pool will be able to house replica modules from the International Space Station

Update: In early 2019, a press release from the Blue Abyss team stated that the project was to be moved from Colchester to a new location on the Wirral, Merseyside. The pool will be developed in partnership with Wirral Waters, a project to regenerate some of the dockland areas around Birkenhead, in keeping with the recent redevelopment of Liverpool docks on the opposite side of the Mersey. Planning approval is expected by late spring. You can find the press release at this link - and watch this space for updates.

The world’s largest and deepest indoor training pool is on the verge of becoming a reality.

At 50m deep and with a volume of approximately 42,000 cubic metres, Blue Abyss will provide state-of-the-art training facilities designed to be the world’s most comprehensive commercial aquatic and space training, research and development centre.

Supporting the commercial diving, submersibles, human spaceflight and human life science sectors, Blue Abyss will help to reduce risk, improve performance and aid exploration in extreme environments, including those associated with commercial diving and sub-aquatic archaeology, human spaceflight and life sciences.

Large enough to test Remote Operated Vehicles (ROVs) and other forms of deep-sea submersible, future astronauts will be able to experience operating on full-scale replicas of the modules that form parts of the International Space Station (ISS), complete with a ‘mission control’ style high-definition video room for pool supervision.

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Astronauts will be able to experience weightlessness in the form of neutral buoyancy (Picture: Blue Abyss)

Blue Abyss will also include hyperbaric and hypobaric chambers, a micro-gravity simulation suspension suite for replicating the effects of weightlessness and a facility known as the 'Kuehnegger Human Performance Centre', focusing on human spaceflight research and its benefits for terrestrial health care.

For further research into space flight, Blue Abyss and its partners will be able to also offer hyper-gravity experience and training through a long arm centrifuge (of the type in which James Bond got stuck in Moonraker), and hypo-gravity training through parabolic aircraft flights. A lecture theatre, classrooms, onsite catering and hotel will complete the complex.

Blue Abyss also aims to encourage people of all ages and abilities to discover the joys of exploring marine and space environments through recreational diving and neutral buoyancy activities through an innovative, aquatic-based STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths) education centre.

The project is supported by Andy Torbet, underwater explorer, ‘extreme’ diver and regular BBC presenter. Writing in a blog post for the Blue Abyss website, he says: ‘The facility and its expeditions will go beyond improving our understanding in science, engineering and conservation. It will not sit as an ivory tower to the elite. Blue Abyss will be open to the public and its aquatic undertakings around the world will involve global public and schools outreach. We need not only support those currently pushing the boundaries but also inspire and inform the public and encourage the next generation.’

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Architect's rendering of the completed facility (Picture: Blue Abyss)

To assist with the underwater training, Blue Abyss have recently announced a partnership with RAID, formerly a specialist training agency for rebreather diving, who has relaunched in the last few years with more focus on standard, recreational open circuit training – an up-and-coming rival to the likes of PADI and SSI

Blue Abyss will be located in Colchester on the University of Essex’s Knowledge Gateway Innovation Park and is expected to be fully operational by early 2019. You can find more information about the project on the Blue Abyss website, and we’ll keep our readers up-to-date with developments as and when they happen.

In the meantime, have a look at this video clip, produced by Cityscape Digital, for a 3D virtual tour of the facility.

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