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Team to deliver Blue Abyss from plans to reality revealed

Team to deliver Blue Abyss from plans to reality revealed

The consultant team to deliver the pioneering underwater, space and human life science training, research and testing centre to support UK space sector growth has been revealed.

Project managers, cost managers and engineers are in place to take Blue Abyss, the world’s first commercial aquatic and space research, development and training centre, from plans to reality.

Designed by architect Robin Partington, Blue Abyss will include a 50m deep indoor pool and human performance research and astronaut training centres and will be capable of simulating the challenges of the extreme environments of outer space and deep sea.

3PM will manage design and build

London-based 3PM will oversee the management of its design and build period, supported by cost managers Gardiner & Theobald, with Pell Frischmann as structural engineers and Hoare Lea as mechanical and electrical engineers.

Spaceflight Bill

The team was unveiled by UK-based Blue Abyss as it was revealed that travellers could be flying to space from the UK as soon as 2020 under new laws to capture a share of the £25billion commercial spaceflight market in the next 20 years.

The government’s Spaceflight Bill sets out plans to regulate launch-to-orbit and sub-orbital spaceflight activities from the UK's first commercial spaceports.

It has been revealed that private space tourists have put down substantial deposits to travel on the world’s most powerful rocket, SpaceX’s Falcon Heavy for a trip around the Moon next year departing from the Kennedy Space Centre at Cape Canaveral, Florida.

Preparing travellers for spaceflight

With veteran astronauts and cosmonauts on its Board and interest expressed by NASA and the European Space Agency (ESA), Blue Abyss will pioneer the world's first commercial facility providing end-to-end services to safely and effectively familiarise and prepare travellers for spaceflight.

Space tourists will need to prepare for the rigours of launch and return to earth, and the weightlessness experienced during spaceflight, just as astronauts do.

The team to deliver the vision of Blue Abyss CEO John Vickers, will be led by Patrick Watson, founding partner of 3PM, whose portfolio of work includes the £80m upgrade of the Twickenham Stadium for the Rugby World Cup, the £80m Cell and Gene Therapy Manufacturing Centre for Catapult and the £140m Paul Marshall Building for the London School of Economics.

3PM, in its fifth year of trading with a £2m turnover, specialises in complex projects and innovation, and has been working with Mr Vickers for two years, undertaking a feasibility study and supporting the funders’ due diligence to assess the viability of the scheme and cost, outline and design.

“A unique and fascinating project”

“It is a unique and fascinating project – nothing like this has been done before,” Mr Watson said.

Blue Abyss probably has the biggest profile of any 3PM project, said Mr Watson, a former mining engineer, for whom creating a 50-metre deep hole for the pool “is not such a challenge.”

This is a complete testament to John Vickers and his vision. John is so passionate about it. He engages everyone he speaks to about it.”

A “one-off project in ambition and scale” – Gardiner & Theobald

Chris Boyce, of cost managers Gardiner & Theobald, whose project experience includes research and development, civil engineering and leisure projects, said Blue Abyss is a “one-off” project in ambition and scale.

Rarely does one project bring together our experience in these sectors – the cutting edge research, the civil engineering challenges along with developing a leisure offer element.”

Renewables strategy – Hoare Lea

Steve Wisby, of mechanical, electrical and public health (MEP) consulting engineers Hoare Lea, the largest firm of MEP consulting engineers in the UK and the oldest, with more than 150 years of design experience, said the biggest challenge was to fulfil a renewables strategy on the project.

Hoare Lea, with experience of airport, pharmaceutical, biochemistry and research projects, will provide the electrical and mechanical elements of the facilities – the heat and the power – and building services into the envelope of the building.

World-class facility – Pell Frischmann

Mike Hitchens, director at Pell Frischmann, said: “The extreme depth of this structure, its clear spanning roof, and the highly sensitive nature of the research equipment and work it will facilitate, are challenges that require incredible precision in its geotechnical and structural design to ensure this becomes the world class facility it deserves to be.”

Pell Frischmann are multi-disciplinary engineers with a 90-year heritage of engineering firsts, tallest buildings, deepest basements, innovative materials, and award winning research facilities.

It is great to be part of a team that thrives on the unique engineering challenges presented by special projects like Blue Abyss where we can fully utilise our creative skills and engineering passion to work in a truly collaborative environment with like-minded people.”

Blue Abyss is in the final stages of securing funding before seeking full planning consent for the site.

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