Research Ship Sailed by Astronauts

Visionary French architect Jacques Rougerie has refined the SeaOrbiter design concept for over a decade, and is finally seeing his dream come to life as this marine monstrosity moves beyond scale-model testing and into pre-production this year.


Sponsored in part by the European Space Agency, it is designed to come complete with a crew comprised in part of NASA-trained astronauts as well as including research scientists from around the world, to explore strange new worlds below the surface of the water.

Partially submerged and partially floating, SeaOrbiter is both submarine and boat, and research station throughout. This dual approach provides continuous exposure below the surface with easy access to the above as needed. Reaching down nearly 200 meters, it will create and infiltrate shallow and deeper waters to study species.


Stabilizers throughout help the already-highly-engineered shape balance the load and resist the multi-directional forces that come with sea-faring excursions. Scale models simulate the conditions it will encounter.

The project has a combination of private, public, institutional and government backing, hence its status as ‘pending’ rather than ‘conceptual’ – with enough money and power behind it, the vessel should be go for launch despite the seemingly improbable, science-fiction quality of the main publicity renderings.
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