Virtual tour released of world’s deepest research pool proposed for the University of Essex

Blue Abyss project at University of EssexA new virtual tour of the world’s deepest research pool, the Blue Abyss Project, backed by British astronaut Major Tim Peake, has just been released as the project moves one step closer to development at the University of Essex.

The University is in exploratory discussions to build the world's deepest swimming pool for spaceflight and human endurance research. Construction on the Blue Abyss Project is expected to take 18 months to two years. It will become Europe’s top marine and space research facility.

Engaging with investors

Essex International (EI), Essex County Council’s International Trade team, has been helping the Blue Abyss Project explore opportunities to identify investment funding from China. Essex International and Blue Abyss are now finalising additional appointments and investment agreements.

“We have been in discussions about the pool with both the European Space Agency and the Chinese authorities. We want this to be a global facility.”

John Vickers, Managing Director, Blue Abyss

Strategic location for research and development

BlueAbyss_by_Cityscape_v1 from Blue Abyss Research Facility on Vimeo.

The proposed 50m deep pool at the University’s campus in Colchester will be deeper than NASA's own 12m deep training pool in Houston and deeper than the world's current deepest pool, the 42m “Y-40” diving pool in Padova, Italy. It will simulate the microgravity of outer space and deep-sea environments used to train astronauts & deep sea divers.

The proposed £40m pool would be located at the University of Essex’s Knowledge Gateway research and business park, close to the London-Stansted-Cambridge economic corridor, and within easy reach of the offshore wind industry conducted through Harwich, one of the most experienced wind ports in the UK.

"All the ingredients are here; the location near to Stansted Airport and the North Sea offshore industry via Harwich; a superb campus site and an excellent research base within the University's academic departments."

John Vickers, Managing Director, Blue Abyss

World leading research facility

The team working with Blue Abyss includes Professor Walter Kuehnegger, one of NASA’s Apollo Lunar Exploration Principle Investigators, who has joined as a consultant. Major Tim Peake, the European Space Agency astronaut, has also backed the project.

Blue Abyss project at University of Essex“I support Blue Abyss and see this future facility as something that does not yet exist in Europe and that would compete with, or potentially even surpass, what is available in the United States and Russia.”

Major Tim Peake, Astronaut, European Space Agency

The pool will complement the University of Essex’s work in monitoring water quality, marine conservation and data analytics.

Blue Abyss project at University of Essex“The digital depiction of the pool brought my vision to life. People can now see what I've been thinking about and if this facility can help young people get more involved or interested in our marine environment then that would be great."

John Vickers, Managing Director, Blue Abyss

“Most people will already know about our work with robotic fish to monitor water quality, but our Human Performance Unit is also based at our Wivenhoe Campus and we have many other specialisms which complement this project including psychology, marine conservation and of course data analytics which underpins all of these areas.”

Bryn Morris, Registrar, University of Essex

Essex Business School at the University of Essex

University investment in growth

The University of Essex is currently undergoing its largest expansion in its 50-year history. It is investing in new teaching, research and living facilities and has recently opened a £26m student centre and a £21m business school. The proposed pool project would further enhance the University of Essex’s offer.

“Many elements of this project fit very well with our strengths as a university. What also really interests us in this proposal are the business engagement and SME spin-out opportunities that could be generated from this development and we look forward to working alongside Blue Abyss to see how it can be delivered.”

Bryn Morris, Registrar, University of Essex

University of Essex

About the University of Essex Knowledge Gateway

The Knowledge Gateway at the University of Essex is a business community where experts can collaborate, ideas are developed and businesses are enabled to prosper and drive business forward across a range of sectors.

About Essex International

Essex International works with companies and organisations to help them make the most of the opportunities of the UK market in the case of Chinese organisations, and the Chinese market, in the case of UK organisations across a number of specific business themes . . .

  • Export to China – connecting companies to interested buyers in China
  • Inward Investment from China – helping UK regions attract inward investment
  • Student Recruitment in China - helping to recruit students from China for universities, colleges and schools
  • Development of Chinese Professionals – providing training to Chinese professionals through UK professional training institutions

For more information about Essex International see

See here for more info on the University of Essex.

Source [BBC News] [Blue Abyss]

Peter Manning
Peter Manning

Head of Essex International

+44 (0) 7907 025 155


Extensive 'in market' experience in China, India and the UK. 15 years in the fields of inward investment, international trade, international realtionships and business development. His experience of helping UK and Chinese businesses, universities and governments do business together has given Peter detailed knowledge of how to do business in China and a wide range of contacts. Peter has an MBA from Henley Business School (Reading University), and was awarded an OBE in 2019 in the New Year’s Honours List for UK/China Relations.