Historical Underwater Habitat Showcase: Hydrolab

in ocean •  11 months ago


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This is something I've been meaning to get to for ages, but haven't found time and space for until recently. There have been over 70 manned undersea structures (in a fixed spot on the sea bed, with no propulsion, which differentiates a habitat from a submarine) in history so far.


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Hydrolab was NOAA's first undersea habitat. It was infamously small, and resulted in many important findings that informed the design of its bigger brother, Aquarius Reef Base. For example, initially it was attached to the weighted base plate by chains.

However this permitted the habitat hull to sway in currents, making the inhabitants sea sick. So it was hauled up out of the water and rigid supports were welded on, firmly attaching it to the base plate, eliminating the problem. Being a prototype in many ways, Hydrolab had many other unique features.


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Although the Hydrolab interior was accessible to divers by the standard moon pool, it had the first airlock in a structure of its kind (called a "lockout chamber") that permitted the Hydrolab interior to be kept at one atmosphere if desired.

It also had a secondary means of access, a docking collar that allowed a submersible to mate to it and transfer dry goods and personnel between the sub and the habitat in a continuous, uncompromised 1 atmosphere environment.


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This made it the only habitat which was designed to dock to a submersible. Another first (and only) was that Hydrolab once was powered for three days without any surface support except the air compressor buoy. All electricity for those three days came from a one of a kind submersible fuel cell that was emplaced on the sea bed next to Hydrolab.

The intent was to move towards a future in which habitats like Hydrolab would receive no support from the surface, but rather have everything required to make the electricity, fresh and and fresh water they needed right there on the ocean floor.


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In the above photo you can see the docking trunk which was used to receive the submersible, also visible in the first photo. To call Hydrolab austere, despite its impressive capabilities for such an early effort, would be an understatement.

It was big on technology but small on creature comforts. Still, what a unique type of coziness to be one of these pioneering early aquanauts. Taking your place in history, staking out a place for humans where it should be impossible to live.


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Hydrolab was constructed in 1966 and missions began in 1970. It hosted 180 missions in all, and was decommissioned in 1985. A long and illustrious career, but sadly like every other habitat, it could not simply be left on the ocean floor. It was recovered and now resides at the NOAA headquarters, having been converted into the cutaway museum style display in one of the pictures above.

A better fate than many historical habitats, most of which were cut down to scrap metal and sold off to recoup some of the cost of building and operating them in the first place. Still, Hydrolab was NOAA's first habitat but not their last, and the Aquarius Reef Base which replaced it improved upon Hydrolab in every respect.

More to come! Let me know if this topic interests you. I'd like to continue it as there's no end of interesting trivia concerning this era in human exploration.


Stay Cozy!

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Holy shit that’s awesome it would be nice to be in one away from everyone :D

Also thought I'd like to experience it for a few months, but then...uh-huh, not for me. Cramped with so many in such a small space, no thanks.

Still, this will lead to new creations and one day we'll probably have an entire undersea city.

Science fiction coming true - in so many ways that it is no longer fun.

Thanks for the post.

Definitely write more about this in the future, man. I think it's kinda odd that we never really hear much about undersea labs/structures, and it was pretty interesting reading about Hydrolab, man.

Though I'm not sure how much I can envy those people in that last photo with that one dude wearing short shorts down there with them. Just imagine being those divers, coming up to the window to say hello to your coworkers and BAM, just a scrawny semi-nude dude in short shorts.

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Such is life beneath the sea.

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True. I mean, what can you really expect when your deep sea neighbors are probably rapey/murderous dolphins?

I wouldn't mind being down there for about a year or so. Just be sure I have some food, drink, good music, a decent computer, good books, lots of paper and pencils.

Fascinating and a space odyssey for sure. I don't think I'd have any interest in being an aquanot since snorkeling is worrisome enough, unless I was guaranteed to see mermaids or underwater UFOs.

I think it's funny how the museum cutout has a life preserver hanging inside in. I mean, I think you're pretty screwed enough if you need to put one on while inside something on the sea floor. Any guess to why they'd have one? If the cabin partially filled while waiting for help - or just a museum prop?

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I have no idea actually, that's a very good question. It might be the same sort of inflatable ascent hood used to escape crippled submarines.

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I updated my comment and am poking you to weigh in on mermaids and underwater UFOs. I've seen a merman, but haven't gotten to Zoolander 2 yet.

Present technology is king of the all country and very unbelievably working ,,,

This is the kind of content that keeps the community alive! Great post, will follow.

@alexbeyman,
I assure you I won't live in there! But this is an interesting topic of course! In last couple of days you are trying to colonized in somewhere that people had no wish to go in present :D Seems like you are planing something new! Great article friend! Hope this is a nice topic for a novel!

Cheers~

Look like you are a genious person.Nice post, keep it up.

Reminds me of the movie jaws, Its crazy how much of the ocean is unexplored

Ohh ! this is such great.
I would like to look forward to your underwater posts. Because this is something different from all others.
And people including me like to read something new every time

Alex living in underwater looks well.... But if something went wrong.... it's not very easy to survive.... nice you decided to share this technological article....
To get more audience, I wish to ReSteem your post.

+W+ [UpVoted & ReSteemed]

Nice post.I love your post.

Underwater habitats are underwater structures in which people can live for extended periods and carry out most of the basic human functions of a 24-hour day, such as working, resting, eating, attending to personal hygiene, and sleeping. Thanks for sharing @alexbeyman

Great post,,,,,,,,,,
Present technology is king of the all country and very unbelievably working ...........
i will always support you man!!!