Submersible's designers prepare to go deep
Updated: 2014-07-15 07:17
By Wang Qian (China Daily)
After a record dive to 7,062 meters below sea level by China's manned submersible Jiaolong in 2012, Chinese scientists are developing another submersible designed to reach 11,000 m.
"The Rainbow Fish submersible is expected to be built before 2020 and is designed to carry three people deep under the sea" said Cui Weicheng, chief designer of the vehicle and director of the Hadal Science and Technology Research Center at Shanghai Ocean University.
Cui, who also served as Jiaolong's first deputy chief designer and project leader, said its successful dive laid a strong foundation for the development of the new submersible.
"The new vehicle will help maintain the country's leading position in the global deep-sea submersible industry," Cui said.
Since 2012, when Jiaolong completed the deepest manned dive in Chinese history, the country has been part of an exclusive club of deep-sea submersible operators that includes Japan, Russia, France and the United States.
"We should take the lead and explore new depths," Cui said, referring to the new 11,000 meter goal.
That depth would mean the new vehicle could take Chinese scientists to Challenger Deep, the deepest known part of the ocean at about 10,911 meters.
Cui started his new submersible project in 2012, and 15 to 20 scientists and engineers will develop the vehicle.
Besides the Rainbow Fish manned submersible, the project covers the 4,000-ton mother ship, an unmanned submersible and three lander devices with designed depths of 11,000 meters.
The project is expected to cost hundreds of millions of yuan and will be supported by private investors and government funding.
"I have already raised about 200 million yuan ($33 million) to build the mother ship, which will be completed by next year, and 60 million yuan to build the unmanned submersible and the three landers," Cui said.
Cui hopes the project will be approved as the key national project in the 13th Five-Year Plan for science and technology.
"Even if I get a veto, I can complete it with private investment," he said, adding that overseas and domestic enterprises are welcome to invest in the project.
While Cui and his team are busy developing the new submersible, Chinese scientists and engineers are also accelerating their pace in deep-sea diving technology with improved submersibles and equipment.
In April, the Ministry of Science and Technology said the first China-made and China-designed remote operated vehicle with a design depth of 4,500 meters passed acceptance tests in the South China Sea.
Xu Qinan, Jiaolong's chief designer, said that under the country's innovation-driven development policy, the development of deep-sea technology would be conducted step by step and can contribute to global deep-sea technology.
(China Daily 07/15/2014 page1)