Diving into the Blue Abyss need not be an outdoor activity anymore. Next year, Blue Abyss, the biggest, deepest indoor pool in the world will open in Colchester, near London. Reaching as deep as 50 metres, the Blue Abyss is ten metres deeper than the Y-40 in Italy and is set to be the most comprehensive deep sea and space research training and test facility of its kind in the world. By offering an unmatched array of training configurations, Blue Abyss will be able to simulate extreme environments to develop both human and robotic missions for industries such as the offshore energy industry to the growing human spaceflght sector and even adventure tourism.
The brainchild of John Vickers, a former IT consultant from London, the pool is set to be 40 metres wide with a long tunnel reaching 50 metres deep at the far end of the pool. It will hold 42,000 cubic metres of water, which is five times more than the capacity of Y-40. The facility will have hyperbaric chambers, commercial diving and micro-gravity facilities. With high definition cameras positioned strategically in the pool and controls which can mimic sea and lighting conditions in the pool, Blue Abyss will enable the commercial diving sector to conduct the most realistic testing, training and pre-operational exercises. Its 30-tonne crane, tie-down points and lifting platforms and roof access allows for the insertion of large training craft into its pool. There is also a highly qualified dive team, supervisors and a hyperbaric support team.
Its hyperbaric chambers are able to simulate operating depths of thousands of metres for submersible craft training with the pool offering depths of 50 metres to practice manoeuvres. Blue Abyss will also have a Research and Development department supported by leading universities and commercial partners to help take new ROVO and AUV sub-systems to market.
Blue Abyss will also prove to be a boon to spaceflight training with neutral buoyancy, parabolic flight and centrifuge training facilities along with hyoer and hypobaric chambers and a micro-gravity simulation suite.
The Kuehnegger Human Performance Centre at Blue Abyss will also house specialist astronaut and athlete test and evaluation facilities. The centre’s microgravity simulation suite with a “traversable, full-body suspension system plus hypobaric chambers” will enable “hypoxia and altitude training, rehabilitiation and physiological studies”.