Blue Abyss

News and posts


Christmas Update | December 2022

Christmas Update | December 2022

As has become something of a tradition, it is my pleasure to bring you this year's CEO’s update regarding Blue Abyss’ progress over the past 12 months and as usual offer our warm wishes to you and your families at Christmas.

My thanks go, once again to Jeremy Banks (@banxcartoons), whose fantastic illustration accompanies the Christmas update again this year.

In the UK, and around the world, there has been much political change which, in turn, has prompted significant alterations to the short and medium-term future collaborations in the Space industry.  In the maritime sector these changes have had a profound effect on our view of maritime security, alongside our future energy requirements and how we satisfy these, and it has become apparent that the need for Blue Abyss’ offerings has never been greater.

However, whilst we continually strive for future progress it’s sometimes possible to forget what has been achieved along the way and as I look back on Blue Abyss’ achievements this year, I am genuinely surprised and moved by the incredible, enduring persistence of the Blue Abyss team and our partners, towards the shared vision of creating the world’s foremost network of next-generation extreme environment, research, development, test, evaluation and training centres.

A vision which is now truly an international endeavour...

Newquay, Cornwall, UK

On-site progress

We move ever closer to commencing construction of the world’s first Blue Abyss centre in Cornwall following completion of ground investigations on the Aerohub site, adjacent to Newquay airport and Spaceport Cornwall.

Soil Engineering Geoservices, a sister company to Blue Abyss’ ground construction partner Bachy Soletanche, started the initial inspection back in May.  This was followed in June by the drilling of four 80m deep boreholes, from which core samples were collected, photographed, and sent to the laboratory for testing. Instrumentation within the boreholes provides ongoing groundwater monitoring and seasonal data, which will further inform construction design.

Plot 9 Borehole underway at Aerohub Cornwall

This work provides meaningful insight into the geology and hydrogeology of the area, which is critical to constructing a large underground structure which includes significant excavated volume and a deep shaft.

Ground Engineering has recently interviewed the team and will be publishing an in-depth summary of the findings early in the New Year.

The next steps include submission of planning permission at the Aerohub Enterprise Zone which is subject to a local development order.

Special thanks go to Bachy Soletanche, Ctori Construction Consultants and Cornwall Council for the collaborative efforts on our progress this year.

Cleveland, Ohio, USA

Following an introduction by Blue Abyss collaborator David Townsend late last year, to long-time supporter of international business in Ohio, Howard Goulden (of Howard Kennedy LLP in London), the idea of Ohio as a possible US location for a Blue Abyss facility became increasingly compelling.  Much like Cornwall, Ohio has a rich industrial heritage and is looking to create a technology-enabled niche for itself in the future, at the heart of the global space economy.

What followed over the course of the year was first a series of calls and then at the first May Bank Holiday, an in-person meeting with John Sankovic the CEO and Kim Holizna, the Director of Global Development & Member Programs at the Ohio Aerospace Institute (OAI).  Following a further meeting at the Farnborough Air Show it was agreed that we would visit Ohio to explore the opportunities in the state directly.

I was accompanied on that visit in mid-September visit by Howard, during which we spent 11 very productive days touring Cleveland, Columbus and many other cities in Ohio, meeting with various prospective partners, likely supporters, and possible customers.

In November, myself and Professor Vladimir Pletser returned to Cleveland, once again hosted by OAI, to further cement the proposal for a Blue Abyss centre, likely to be located adjacent to Cleveland Hopkins International Airport.  In addition, we progressed possible partner engagements and began earnestly looking to secure further investment in the Blue Abyss global vision.

Extract from video used during Ohio investor presentation November 2022

With strong support from the State of Ohio, the City Mayors Office, academic and industrial partners, the proposal has considerable traction with a potential site identified, investment in discussion and partnerships formed.

The team will return to Ohio early in the New Year, with the intention of finalising investment, progressing contracts, and growing Blue Abyss’ US presence.

The Team

It has been wonderful for the team to be able to travel more widely and able to participate in in-person events again this year. There have been many such events and Blue Abyss has been represented by team members all over the world.

Vladimir Pletser

As part of this year's Belgian Space Week in October, Blue Abyss Space Operations Training Director, Vladimir Pletser spoke alongside astronauts and researchers on the societal benefits of Space exploration.

Mindy Howard

Editorial image credit

In December, Director if Inner Space Training, Dr. Mindy Howard was once again elected as a United Nations Office for Outer Space Affairs (UNOOSA) mentor for girls who aspire to become Astronauts. Congratulations Mindy!

John Vickers

John Vickers, with NASA Astronaut Doug ‘Wheels’ Wheelock

In September, I took part in the 2022 British American Business Network Transatlantic Conference, participating in a panel discussion covering the Business and Legal Challenges of Aerospace & Law Exploring Space. A highlight being spending time with former NASA Astronaut and Test Pilot, Doug ‘Wheels’ Wheelock who is currently working as the lead Artemis astronaut, testing systems aboard the Orion spacecraft at NASA’s Neil A. Armstrong Test Facility at Sandusky and at NASA Glenn’s research facility as well as at Johnson Space Centre in Houston.

Hirokazu Mori

Editorial image credit ©DigitalBlast Inc 

Blue Abyss VP Business Development APAC, Hirokazu Mori has had an extremely busy year travelling internationally as a consultant to numerous international space projects.  Notably in December, Hiro was appointed to act as an advisor to DigitalBlast Co. Ltd., which aims to support the creation of business in space, including Japan's first privately-led space station, the Civilian Space Station (CSS) Concept which plans to launch its first module to low earth orbit before 2030, when the ISS is set to cease operation.

Nigel Packham

In February, adding to a distinguished group of world-class aerospace and marine consultants, Blue Abyss secured the expertise of Dr. Nigel Packham’s in advisory capacity in areas such as health, safety and quality management, technical systems, training operations, environmental factors and the management of risk.

Dr. Packham has served as the Associate Director for Safety and Mission Assurance at NASA’s Johnson Space Centre since 2007, ensuring safe and successful human space flight to the International Space Station (ISS).

Jenn Thomson

Editorial image credit  ©OXR Dive Team

We also welcome Jenn to the Blue Abyss team as a consultant and ambassador. She is a Marine Biologist, PADI Divemaster, and human spaceflight aficionado who has recently returned from a 5-month mission with OceanX as an expedition scientist.

Jenn was recently announced as the 2022-23 recipient of the Next Generation Scholarship by Global Underwater Explorers.

She holds an MSc in Marine Ecosystems Management (University of St Andrews), has studied everything from Mandarin, to shark cardiac ecophysiology to computational modelling; and has also attended a microgravity summer school at the European Space Agency.

Jenn aspires to further her work in ocean expeditions and deliver neutral buoyancy and parabolic flight training in the future, connecting the space and marine domains via her love of extreme environment exploration.

Tim Peake

The end of 2022 marks the conclusion of Tim’s tenure on the Blue Abyss Advisory board, and we extend our warmest wishes and thanks to Tim, who has been a wonderful advisor, ambassador and friend to Blue Abyss over the years.

Thank you, Tim, and good luck, with your various new ventures in the months ahead!

The Blue Abyss Human Spaceflight Team

Recent visit to Saudi Arabia. From left to right - Debbie Trainor (contract training lead), Dr Beth Healey (contract medical lead), Profs Pletser and Evetts and Dr Tess Morris-Paterson (contract human performance lead).

In April Blue Abyss teamed with Jacobs, a multi-sector conglomerate of global stature, to successfully bid for a contract to support Saudi Arabia’s emerging Human Space Flight programme.  A formal announcement is due to be made early in the New Year and we will use our Social Media channels to communicate further updates when the time comes.

To deliver the contract, the team has engaged 16 subject matter experts jointly led by Prof. Simon Evetts, Research & Development Director and Prof. Vladimir Pletser, Space Operations Training Director.

The team is very much looking forward to delivering on the contact and supporting the global development of human spaceflight programmes over the coming years.

Education & Outreach

Space camp Cornwall

An important part of the vision has always been inspiring and educating and it was fantastic to be taking part in more in-person events again this year and in July the Blue Abyss team was very pleased to recently join in Cornwall’s first space camp, Organised by Truro and Penwith College.

Approximately 50 pupils from schools from around the region, aged between 13 and 15 participated in the weeklong venture where Blue Abyss R&D Director, Professor Simon Evetts, was joined by Director of XR Technologies, Professor Robert Stone and provided a series of interactive VR demonstrations, ranging from exploring the International Space Station and driving a moon rover, to a Mars exploration task.

The students also learnt about the history of human spaceflight, gained a feel for what space mission operations involve and experienced a demonstration of the prototype Gravity Loading Countermeasure garment (Skinsuit).

Our thanks to Dr Heidi Thiemann and the team at Truro and Penwith College for organising such a fascinating event!

In conclusion

It’s quite incredible to see the progress made over the last 12 months. The beginning of 2023 and into the future will no doubt remain busy for team, with much work to do to progress build in Cornwall, finalise plans in Ohio and continue to grow the Blue Abyss global vision.

There are other projects underway, about which we can share further details in the coming weeks and months. These include additional international partnerships and contracts, investment and funding developments and additional commercial activity.

Many thanks again, to everyone that has helped along the way. It has taken a monumental team effort to get Blue Abyss to where it is today, and we look to the future with optimism and strong motivation!

Thank you.

John Vickers, CEO


Share this story

Posted in Commercial | News | People | Space

❮ Previous

Subscribe to our e-newsletters to keep up to date with the latest news

Press or media enquiry?

Please contact

Follow us on YouTube for the latest films

Until Blue Abyss

Dive into the Blue Abyss

Andy Torbet Supports Blue Abyss