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“Ocean Space Habitat” Will Let You Camp Underwater

The Ocean Space Habitat in action. National Geographic photo.

Initially conceived as a kind of "base camp" for SCUBA divers, the Ocean Space Habitat is being touted as ushering in a new era of underwater exploration.  While underwater habitats aren't a new concept (see NOAA's Aquarius), the degree of flexibility afforded by the Ocean Space Habitat promises to allow broader usage and new applications.  

How does it actually work, though?  Essentially, the structure is packable, allowing divers to bring it to their desired underwater location, inflate it, and use it as a basecamp.  Divers can remove their gear, eat, nap, and work far below the surface without relying on a cumbersome vehicle or needing to resurface.  The tent can then be dissembled and moved to a new location, allowing divers an unprecedented degree of freedom in terms of time and movement underwater.  Instead of being restricted to the amount of oxygen which they can carry on their back, divers utilizing the Ocean Space Habitat can conserve oxygen by using the tanks attached to the habitat.  

Related: Teton County Search and Rescue Gets New High-Tech Tool

Much cheaper and more versatile than its competitors, it could have commercial applications on top of the research-focused projects for which it was developed.  Michael Lombardi, a co-inventor, is particularly excited about the potential for his invention to open aspects of the underwater world to new audiences.  “Imagine if a tourist, normally limited to a one-hour dive, could stay under through that magical transition from sunlight to twilight to darkness—with all the life that emerges,” he says. “People could experience the ocean in a whole new way.”

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