China Speeding Efforts to Build a Manned Oceanic “Space Station”



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China is accelerating efforts to design and build a manned deep-sea platform to help it hunt for minerals in the South China Sea, one that may also serve a military purpose in the disputed waters, joining an exclusive club of countries that are capable of achieving human access to the deep sea. The other countries are the United States, Russia, France and Japan. The achievement will allow China to explore more than 99.8% of the ocean floor, Liu Cigui, director China’s State Oceanic Administration (SOA), told the media.

China is accelerating efforts to design and build an oceanic “space station” would be located as much as 3,000 meters (9,800 feet) below the surface of the South China Sea, according to a recent Science Ministry presentation viewed by Bloomberg.

The project was mentioned in China’s current five-year economic plan released in March and ranked number two on a list of the top 100 science and technology priorities.

“Having this kind of long-term inhabited station has not been attempted this deep, but it is certainly possible,” said Bryan Clark, a senior fellow at the Washington-based Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments. “Manned submersibles have gone to those depths for almost 50 years. The challenge is operating it for months at a time.”

The U.S. Energy Information Administration says the South China Sea has proved and probable reserves of about 11 billion barrels of oil and 190 trillion cubic feet of natural gas. China Cnooc chairman estimated the South China Sea holds around 125 billion barrels of oil and 500 trillion cubic feet of natural gas.

Modern nuclear attack submarines like the American Seawolf class are estimated to have a test depth of 490 m (1,600 ft), which would imply a collapse depth of 730 m (2,400 ft). Test depth is the maximum depth at which a submarine is permitted to operate under normal peacetime circumstances, and is tested during sea trials.

In June 2012, China’s manned submersible Jiaolong successfully completed its deepest test dive, to 7,020 meters in the Mariana Trench in the western Pacific Ocean.

Researchers at Shanghai Ocean University have also developed a submersible movable laboratory capable of operating at more than 13,000 feet underwater.

Deepsea challenger has gone to the bottom of the ocean On March 26, 2012, James Cameron reached the bottom of the Challenger Deep, the deepest part of the Mariana Trench. The maximum depth recorded during this record-setting dive was 10,908 meters (35,787 ft).

Nearly 50% of the world’s oceans are deeper than 4 kilometers, which provides vast areas for concealment and storage. Concealment provided by the sea also provides the opportunity to quickly engage remote assets that may have been dormant and undetected for long periods of time, while its vastness allows simultaneous operation across great distances.

The Daily Galaxy via Bloomberg, Nextbigfuture, China Shipbuilding Industry Corporation, DARPA


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