COMEX entertains Blue Abyss in Marseille
Seen here enjoying the sunshine and Marseille's stunning scenery, John Vickers and Site & Facilities Manager Hugh Keir recently hopped across the Channel to visit COMEX to discuss R&D partnership opportunities.
Established in 1961, COMEX has pioneered the development of technologies for human and robotic intervention in underwater and space environments. COMEX is a world leader in hyperbaric and hypobaric engineering, technology and underwater operations. The company invented the first hyperbaric chamber in 1964; pioneered deep sea diving for the offshore oil and gas industry; and holds a 25-year unbroken record for the deepest hyperbaric dry dive at 701 metres.
Hyperbaric Experimental Centre
The ‘Hydra 10’ test dive in 1992 demonstrated that Hydreliox breathing mixture not only enhances diver effectiveness and working capabilities, but also provides improved safety at depths far exceeding the limits of conventional helium diving. The Hyperbaric Experimental Centre continues to host world-renowned scientific teams of academic and industrial researchers and engineers.
Human performance at altitude
The Hydrosphere Habitat contains separate chambers for hyper and hypobaric research. In 1997, it was used to research the effects of hypoxia. The project named ‘Operation Everest-COMEX’ studied eight men as they adapted to a chronic lack of oxygen to reach the virtual summit of Everest.
World-leading submersibles and robotics
COMEX is no stranger to developing submersibles and underwater robotics either. It developed Seabex, the first modern dynamically positioned vessel for diving; Saga, the world’s largest civilian diver lock-out submersible with an operating depth of 600 meters; the first orbital welding robot; and the first 600-meter submarine with transparent acrylic sphere.
The early 20th century French submarine ‘Alose’ was raised from the depths of the Mediterranean by COMEX in 1976, where it now takes pride of place outside their offices.
Lunar and Martian simulation
COMEX’ long experience of human performance in extreme environments has enabled them to make a major contribution to the human spaceflight community.
The company has developed the European Commission-funded SHEE life support system for a prototype lunar habitat, as well as played a key role in developing the infrastructure to simulate lunar and Martian missions.
In 2013, wearing the COMEX Gandolfi 1 training suit, European Astronaut Jean-François Clervoy and ESA Astronaut Training Manager Hervé Stevenin were able to replicate the historic first lunar landing on the seabed of the Bay of Marseille.
With over 50 years’ experience in the development of marine and submarine technologies, in the fields of offshore energy, space, medicine and research, COMEX is a partner of choice for Blue Abyss,” says John.
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