Developed in partnership with Blue Abyss, the proposed pool would be 164 feet deep and could be used for training space tourists by simulating the microgravity conditions experienced in space.
In comparison, NASA’s current “Neutral Buoyancy Lab” training pool in Houston is just 39 feet deep.
Astronauts currently train in the space agency’s pool in full spacesuits, working on mockups of the International Space Station to simulate maintenance and research tasks that need to be carried out in space.
The ambitious project is backed by British astronaut Tim Peake who is due to blast off to the International Space Station in December.
Peake sees the facility “as something that does not yet exist in Europe and that would compete with, or potentially even surpass, what is available in the U.S. and Russia.”
The project is expected to cost $62 million and would also include a lecture theatre and classrooms, along with an adjacent 120-room hotel.
If it goes ahead, the pool will be built at the university’s “Knowledge Gateway” research and business park at its Colchester Campus.
As well as being a base for space travel training, the faculty could also be used for free-diving and tests on new diving equipment while the ability to introduce simulated cave systems and wrecks means that it could also be used for scuba diving practice.