April 24, 2014

Trendsetters

Innovators: Aerospace & Technology

Florida inventions: From the combat field to the football field ...

Mike Vogel | 11/1/2007

Merman

In 2009 — pending some big ifs — Dennis Chamberland and two other aquanauts will move into an undersea habitat off the Florida coast to set the world record for days living under water.

Dennis Chamberland
Dennis Chamberland [Photo: Gregg Matthews]
Chamberland, 56, says the mission, Atlantica I, is a prelude to 2012, when he hopes to see 12 people establish Atlantica II, the first permanent human undersea colony. That venture envisions the largest human undersea habitat ever built — a structure in the Gulf Stream off Florida where families will live and work and children will be born. To clear up any misunderstanding, he hastens to add that it doesn’t mean the colonists won’t ever walk the earth again. The colony will be their primary residence, but they will leave for hurricanes, vacations and land-side trips.

The Oklahoma native’s interest in the sea dates to watching “Sea Hunt” as a kid. He worked on an underwater living project while at Oklahoma State in 1972. He was a life scientist with NASA and designed NASA’s Scott Carpenter Space Analog Station undersea habitat, where NASA studied how lessons learned undersea could apply to space.

the New World Explorer Habitat
Construction on the New World Explorer Habitat is set to begin this month and is scheduled for deployment in the spring. The two-man habitat will serve as a secondary habitat for the Atlantica I mission.
In developing Atlantica, Chamberland speaks of stewardship, science and sustainability and, on his website, the inevitability of new nations undersea. His group needs to raise $75,000 to fund the first mission and $1.5 million to begin the permanent colony.

For the 2009 Atlantica I mission, Chamberland, his wife, Claudia, and diving operations chief Terrence Tysall will try to stay below the surface for 80 days to break the 69-day record set at the Jules Undersea Lodge in the Keys. Seven people have committed as colonists for Atlantica II, he says. The habitat will be no deeper than 150 feet.

Chamberland has dreams but no illusions about the difficulty of his quest. But, he says, “I think this really has a good chance of success.”

» Dennis Chamberland
Atlantica I, aquanaut
Cocoa
Varied interests: Chamberland writes novels, just released a non-fiction work, “Undersea Colonies,” once did an extended interview with Vietnam era Gen. William Westmoreland and wrote on genetic engineering for Christianity Today.
Sea world: “We have chosen for whatever reason to ignore the undersea world.”
Coming and going: For transport, the aquanauts have
the Dan Scott Taylor II submarine, developed by the late Taylor to explore Loch Ness.


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