For over a decade Jacques Rougerie’s dream of creating a self-sustaining laboratory on the sea seemed to be nothing more than just a fantasy. Now the French architect’s innovative concept of a live-aboard vessel is only a mere 4 months away from becoming a reality. With the industrial design phase for the project complete, construction of Rougerie’s SeaOrbiter is set to begin in October, and scheduled for completion by the end of 2013.

SeaOrbiter is one part research ship, one part submarine. At a height of 170 feet, the vessel will be constructed with both open-air and underwater observation areas. The most leading edge feature of the “space station of the sea” will be it’s ability to keep 50% of the ship permanently submerged below the ocean so researchers can have 24-7 access to the underwater world.  The estimated $53 million watercraft will house 18 archaeologists, climate specialists, marine biologists, oceanographers, and space scientists who can tap into sonic and satellite technology for real-time information about the Earth’s oceans, weather, and sea life.

Space Station of the Sea

Besides being a design and scientific breakthrough, SeaOrbiter is also an environmental advancement as well. The ship will mostly drift on the ocean’s currents, but when necessary it can be propelled by renewable energy sources like solar, wind, and wave power. Work is also being done by EADS, the European Aeronautic Defence and Space Company, to develop a biofuel with the capability to power the ship’s transportation methods and independent life-support system as well. Creators of SeaOrbiter hope to one day have the fully self-sufficient ocean explorers stationed throughout the world.

Model of SeaOrbiter

A model of SeaOrbiter is on display at Expo 2012 in Yeosu, South Korea.

Check out video of Jacques Rougerie’s SeaOrbiter design: