Skip to comments.Steve Fossett's unfinished legacy: Deepest ocean exploration
Posted on 10/04/2008 1:36:07 AM PDT by valkyry1
Steve Fossett's unfinished legacy: Deepest ocean exploration
And were it not for what seems certain to be his untimely and tragic death in a small airplane crash high in the Sierra Nevada mountains, Fossett was poised to set a new record, one that could have far surpassed his many others in scope and shock value.
The record? To become the first human being to dive solo to the bottom of the Mariana Trench, 36,000 feet below the ocean surface near Guam.
(Excerpt) Read more at cnet.com ...
The project was first reported by KGO-TV.
It's been well known that for the last ten years, we've been working on revolutionary designs for underwater flying craft, said Graham Hawkes, the firm's chief engineer, and we wanted to solve the problems of getting ultra deep. So I think it was fairly natural that he'd come to us.
Hawkes explained that because of the tragedy of Fossetts death, the Deep Flight Challenger is now sitting behind locked doors in a warehouse near Hawkes Ocean Technologies offices. It is owned by Fossetts estate, and it is not known what will happen to it given that the adventurer is no longer around to make the dive himself.
Butwith apologies to Native Americansto hear Hawkes talk about deep diving like this is tantamount to what it must have been like to talk to someone explaining that the American West was unexplored territory and that he (or she) had the technology to take people there to open up a giant new frontier.
This is a CAD drawing of the Deep Flight Challenger without its outer skin.
(Credit: Hawkes Ocean Technologies)
Today, Hawkes said, there are just five deep ocean submersible craft in the world, all of which are owned by national governments. The United States has one, Russia has twoincluding one used by film director James Cameron to shoot some of the underwater sequences in Titanicand both France and Japan have one.
Each of those vessels, however, are vastly expensive operations that require dedicated motherships to launch a mission, and which, Hawkes said, have extremely limited exploration range once they reach their desired depths.
By comparison, he said that his company's expertise has been the development of submersibles that are just one-eighth the weight of the nationally-owned crafts. And that's the major benefit of the technology. The submersibles can be launched from a wide variety of small rented ships; and once at depth, they can explore as much as 20 kilometers of territory.
And because the company's submersibles are so much lighter and don't require dedicated ships, they can cost approximately a tenth as much as the existing technology, said Karen Hawkes, the company's manager for marketing and communications.
Nah. Several hundred Japanese pilots did that about 65 years ago. Fossett does have the distinction of being the first to come back up.
Fossett never made it for this adventure.
He planned to make a record dive to the bottom of the ocean with a watercraft.
The vessel would be capable of diving 37,000 feet below the Earth's surface.
The designer of Deep Space Challenger said it would have increased ocean exploration.
When adventurer Steve Fossett disappeared on a solo flight a year ago, he was four weeks away from piloting a winged submersible in a Pacific Ocean dive to the deepest spot on Earth ї the Mariana Trench, the head of the company that made the craft said, CNN reported.
At Fossettїs request, Hawkes Ocean Technologies built the vessel Deep Flight Challenger so the millionaire could try to set a solo-dive record to the Mariana Trench, 37,000 feet below the oceanїs surface, company owner Graham Hawkes told KGO-TV in Richmond, California.
When Fossett went missing, the project was put on hold, Hawkes said Thursday. The craft is stored in a Richmond warehouse.
їWeїd finished testing. All of the systems had been tested under pressure at Department of Defense facilities, and we were four weeks away from splashing it in,ї Hawkes said in an interview. їIt (dive) would have dramatically, dramatically opened the oceans for exploration. It would have been a game-changer.ї