Proteus: Design of Underwater ‘Space Station’ in Curaçao Revealed
Published: Thursday, 30 July 2020
Proteus: Concept designs by Yves Béhar and Fuseproject
Ocean explorer Fabien Cousteau has revealed his vision for Proteus – the world’s most advanced underwater scientific research station.
Conceived as an underwater version of the International Space Station, Proteus will be a platform for global collaboration among leading researchers, academics, government agencies and corporations to find solutions to humanity’s most critical concerns: medicinal discoveries, food sustainability, and the impacts of climate change.
“As our life support system, the ocean is indispensable to solving the planet’s biggest problems. Challenges created by climate change, rising sea levels, extreme storms and viruses represent a multi-trillion-dollar risk to the global economy,” says Fabien Cousteau.
Despite the ocean representing over 99 per cent of our world’s living space, only 5 per cent has been explored to date. “Proteus is contemplated as the first in a network of underwater habitats; essential to driving meaningful solutions that protect the future of our planet,” says Cousteau. “The knowledge that will be uncovered underwater will forever change the way generations of humans live up above.”
Proteus is envisioned to be more than four times the size of any previously known underwater habitat, and will feature state-of-the-art labs, sleeping quarters, and a moon pool. It will include the first underwater greenhouse, allowing inhabitants to grow fresh plant life for food, marking a unique approach to address some challenges that come with underwater living, such as not being allowed to cook with open flames.
Proteus will also grant scientists and aquanauts the time to conduct continuous night and day diving and data collection. The Proteus marine research platform, among its many functions, will enable the discovery of new species of marine life, create a better understanding of how climate change affects the ocean, and allow for the testing of advanced technologies for green power, aquaculture, and robotic exploration.
Saturation enables humans to live, work and explore underwater. Because divers’ bloodstream becomes saturated at greater depth and pressures, Proteus allows divers to spend an entire day conducting research on the ocean floor.
"Proteus is a hopeful step forward in spreading the message that we must protect the ocean as if our lives depend on it. Living underwater gives us the gift of time and the incredible perspective of being a resident on the reef. You're not just a visitor anymore," says celebrated marine biologist Dr Sylvia Earle.
Proteus will be located off Curaçao, at a depth of 60 feet. Dr Ivan Steve "Steven" Martina, Curaçao’s minister of economic development, says: “We are delighted to be home to Proteus. Our incredible Caribbean Sea holds immense riches yet to be fully discovered. The economic potential of having the first underwater space station located in Curaçao’s waters is enormous, from job creation to tourism.”
Grote Knip, Curaçao
Jean-Michel Cousteau, Fabien’s father, an oceanographic explorer, environmentalist, educator, and film producer, supports the evolution of underwater exploration and research that Proteus will provide. "Proteus is a critical step in understanding that humans have the capacity to design our own future, to take a lesson from the past, from living things around us and bring our values and actions in line with ecological necessity. We must first realise that ecological and social and economic issues are all deeply intertwined. There can be no solution to one without a solution to the others."
“We must dare to dream bigger and look to our ocean as part of the solution,” says Fabien Cousteau. “Proteus will be integral to giving back to our future generations that which we have taken for granted.”