The state manned bathyscaphe project, a space exploration program believed to"be matched with the manned space flight project in every aspect", is now on the horizon.
Although the project has been listed as one of the key tasks to be solved in the "863 plan" of the national "Tenth Five-Year Plan", researchers have never disclosed any details and progress about it.
According to Gao Jie, chief of the Marine Science and Technology Section of Qingdao Municipal Science and Technology Bureau, said that China's manned bathyscaphe, which can dive 7,000 meters below sea level and study 99 per cent of the world underwater space, will become the world No 1 in the deep sea exploration.
He also said that the bathyscaphe would be tested underwater at the beginning of 2006 as scheduled and applied to scientific researches at the end of the same year. Currently, only the US, Japan, France and Russia possess the technology of manned bathyscaphe. (2,000 meters below sea level)
According to a scientist��s speaking on the condition of anonymity, the bathyscaphe is a spherical deep-sea diving submersible. It usually takes 5 hours to travel from the sea level to the 7,000 meters below sea level and the whole operating time lasts 12 hours. The development of such a bathyscaphe is no less difficult than the development of a manned spacecraft. However, the major technological problems have been solved so far and the energy and funds will put into the research of a maintenance system of staff's life cycle. The bathyscaphe can carry three people on board, one operator and two scientists. But in the early plan, three people were all operators.
China has taken the application of robot in the marine research as a key program since the 1980s. In 1995, the 6,000 meters deep cable-free and unmanned underwater robot, which was mainly a result of China's achievement under Sino-Russian cooperation, was successfully developed in Shenyang Institute of Automation of Chinese Academy of Sciences. This August, the Institute of Underwater Research of Shanghai Jiaotong University successfully developed China's most advanced deep-sea unmanned remote control submersible that could study the deepest underwater space China could explore so far. However, as for the manned underwater robots, China can only develop those that dive as deep as five to six hundred meters under the sea level.
Jin Xianglong, academician of Chinese Academy of Engineering and oceanologist, believed that in light of the increasingly intensive competition, the scientific research fields in the wide outer space have almost been carved up. If China wants to quickly become a strong nation, we must shift our strategic objective towards sea, conquer the underwater space and be a strong marine power.
By People's Daily Online