Blue Abyss – the brainchild of ex-forces diving instructor and management consultant, John Vickers – aims to be the largest and deepest indoor pool in the world.
The scheme, supported by British astronaut Major Tim Peake, would see Blue Abyss acquire four plots on the Aerohub Business Park, next to Cornwall Airport Newquay to build a 10-acre site. Spaceport Cornwall is based on the same site.
The complex would house the pool, astronaut training centre, human performance centre, hypobaric and hyperbaric chambers, microgravity suite, training centre with six classrooms, workshops, onsite catering and accommodation facilities.
Tim Peak explained that “Cornwall is the perfect home for Blue Abyss, a region with great potential for its space, aerospace and renewable energy ambitions. This project will join Goonhilly Earth Station and Spaceport Cornwall as significant national assets, creating a deep-sea and space research, training and test facility, as well as fantastic educational resource, helping to widen our knowledge of how humans and technology can function in extreme environments, for the benefit of people and the planet.”
Central to the plans would be an aquatic centre featuring a 50m by 40m stepped pool with a 50m deep shaft.
The pool would hold over 42,000 cubic metres of water – the equivalent of 17 Olympic size swimming pools or 168 million cups of tea – making it the largest and deepest indoor pool in the world.
A sliding roof and 30-tonne crane will allow large objects to be lowered into the pool, from simulated sections of the International Space Station to underwater film sets and even cave systems to test remotely operated vehicles or train deep-sea divers.
The pool’s temperature, lighting and salinity can all be controlled to simulate different conditions, including different currents at varying depths.
The team behind the scheme hope the project will support 160 jobs and the average salary at Blue Abyss will be £42,500, more than twice the average wage in Cornwall.
The project is now in the process of applying for planning permission to Cornwall Council and aims to open by 2023.