A maritime research organization will pilot a government project for a modular underwater structure

[Courtesy of the Korea Institute of Ocean Science and Technology]

SEOUL — A maritime research organization will lead South Korea’s five-year state project to install a modular underwater structure that will allow three people to stay at a depth of 30 meters for 30 days. It would be Asia’s first underwater space demonstration module with separate spaces for research, residence, a data center and an underwater chamber.

The Korea Institute of Ocean Science and Technology (KIOST) said it had been selected by the Ministry of Maritime Affairs and Fisheries to lead technology development for the project which would cost some 37.3 billion won (30 .8 million) for five years from 2022. The project is diverse in research and application areas, covering design and construction technologies to create living space under the sea and maintenance technologies .

Along with an underwater space platform, researchers would develop medical technologies for the health and safety of residents, as well as information and communications technologies for underwater energy supply and communication. A total of 23 institutions and companies, including Korea Aerospace Research Institute, Korea Institute of Science and Technology and SK Telecom.

KIOST compared the underwater platform to a space station. “The underwater platform is an aggregate of various advanced marine science and technology like the space station. We will do our best to successfully take the project to the next level,” said KIOST researcher Han Taek-hee. in a statement in April. 13.

The underwater platform will be built off the southeastern port city of Ulsan. The sea off Ulsan is relatively easy to work with underwater in terms of turbidity, tide and water temperature, with no history of seabed subsidence over the past 20 years, KIOST said, rating Ulsan as the best location for the installation of a submarine. platform for its industrial infrastructure of shipbuilding and marine factories.

A KIOST research team was involved in a state project to develop underwater construction robots. In 2020, two underwater construction robots were put into their first commercial on-site operation to build a water supply pipeline off Geoje Island in southern South Korea.


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