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Blue Abyss announces the world’s first commercial space and deep sea centre to be developed at RAF Henlow

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Blue Abyss, the world’s first commercial deep sea to space research, training and test centre, is at the centre of a multi-million-pound regeneration vision to develop a science, innovation and technology park on part of a soon-to-close RAF base site in Bedfordshire, UK.

The Blue Abyss team is working with Central Bedfordshire Council to create the £120m facility, designed by London’s Gherkin architect Robin Partington, on part of the RAF Henlow site, which is due to close by 2020.

Blue Abyss will house the world’s biggest 50m deep pool, a hotel, an astronaut training centre including parabolic flight capability, hypobaric and hyperbaric chambers and a human performance centre to enable divers, astronauts and top athletes to perform at the peak of their potential. Plans also include a conference theatre and training rooms, and a 120-bed hotel.

Blue Abyss will fulfill a crucial role in the growth of the UK’s space industry, highlighted by the Government in the Queen’s Speech last week.

It hopes to start building at the end of the year to start operating in 2019, bringing about 160 new jobs. The Blue Abyss team plans to reuse some facilities at RAF Henlow, including a centrifuge base already installed at the site for its long-arm human centrifuge for high-G astronaut training.

A launch event, sponsored by Northumbria University, was due to be held at Cranfield University today (Tuesday June 27), attended by representatives of the European Space Agency (ESA), Romanian cosmonaut Dumitru-Dorin Prunariu, Blue Abyss non-executive director, and representatives from central and local government.

Blue Abyss, designed by Robin Partington

Blue Abyss will provide an arena for pioneering research and development into extreme environments, which in turn will enable better human performance in deep sea and space environments by encouraging innovation. The research and development will help to reduce risk, test operational procedures, improve performance and aid exploration in these environments.

Blue Abyss chief executive John Vickers said its aim was to transform human life science research and performance training in extreme environments, focusing on advanced commercial diving skills, underwater and space robotics, human spaceflight preparation, professional athlete fitness and healthcare from a better understanding of human physiology under extreme conditions.

John Vickers, Blue Abyss, chief executive

Blue Abyss’ education outreach programme and collaboration with universities will help shape a new generation of scientists and engineers, working with primary schools through to post-graduate and post-doctorate researchers.

“RAF Henlow provides the ideal site for Blue Abyss. The market is waiting for this facility – space tourism, the UK space programme and the demand for experiential packages.

“Having a centrifuge base already there is an important feature because it’s the most expensive and difficult element of the equipment to install.

“Being part of something bigger, working closely with a proactive council in its enabling and planning capacity and bringing jobs to the area, means we can make the incredibly exciting facilities for the industries we will serve a reality, for UK plc and increase the profile of space travel, space adventure and tourism, deep-sea and offshore energy innovation.”

The centre’s Kuehnegger Human Performance Centre will house specialist diver, astronaut and athlete research and development facilities. The centre will include a microgravity simulation suite with a traversable, full-body suspension system plus additional hypobaric chambers to facilitate hypoxia and altitude training, rehabilitation and physiological studies.

Cllr James Jamieson, Leader of Central Bedfordshire Council, said:

“The council welcomes the proposals to bring Blue Abyss to the Henlow site as a central part of a comprehensive mixed use regeneration vision. Central Bedfordshire is pleased to be working in partnership with Blue Abyss to bring these exciting, innovative proposals to fruition within central Bedfordshire.”

Find out more at www.blueabyss.uk

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Mares & SSI launch new promotion

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SSI expands financial support to SSI Members worldwide. 

2020 has been an unusual and challenging year for the entire world, especially the diving and travel industry!  To weather the crisis, SSI immediately jumped into action to help Training Centers and Professionals around the world.  

In response to COVID-19, SSI launched the No Water, No Problem Campaign, put Final Exams online, and held hundreds of Webinars to train Professionals on how to use distance learning to teach the dry Specialties online. The FREE SCIENCE OF DIVING promotion resulted in SSI Training Centers worldwide register over 50,000 FREE DIGITAL KITS, funding more than $3.5 MILLION IN RETAIL VALUE. Additionally, SSI introduced an aggressive DOUBLE PRO REWARDS incentive to help SSI Professionals compensate 2020 Renewal Fees and reduce those for 2021. Currently, the WE WANT YOU Crossover promotion aims to fill the industry need for instructors and strengthen the entire SSI Professional community.

Now, in conjunction with Mares, SSI is launching the GO DIVING – PROTECT YOURSELF. OWN EQUIPMENT Promotion, which includes a FREE SSI EQUIPMENT TECHNIQUES DIGITAL KIT. This new campaign strives to motivate divers worldwide to go diving and buy equipment. Look for more information on this next retail support campaign within the next few days.

“These are just a few examples of how we have supported and are continuing to support our Training Centers, Professionals, and divers worldwide. To provide even more economic security and help in business recovery, WE WILL NOT INCREASE PRICES FOR 2021. While travel was restricted and some key resort areas completely locked down, SSI mainly focused on supporting domestic markets with retail-driven incentives. Now, in this next re-opening phase, we need to shift gear and assist resort markets that have no local diving community and are 100% dependent on the traveling diver. Therefore, SSI will grant certain special conditions and delayed payment options to specific resort markets which have been locked down for longer than six months or suffered from closed borders,” stated Guido Waetzig, SSI CEO.

Guido Waetzig, SSI CEO, explains further, “To financially support these needed investments which directly benefit SSI Members and to protect the health of our valuable members and staff, we will forego all 2021 Trade Shows over the next 12 months. Despite international uncertainty, every time we experience one of these events, the entire SSI Network emerges stronger and more resilient. Be assured, SSI is your trustful partner within the Diving Industry!”

For more information about SSI visit their website by clicking here.

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Photo Gallery: Shark Diving in The Bahamas

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In our Gallery feature, we let the photos tell the story… Each Gallery showcases a selection of outstanding images on a chosen theme, taken by our Underwater Photography Editor Nick and Deputy Editor Caroline of Frogfish Photography. This time they look at Shark Diving in The Bahamas.


The Bahamas offers some of the very finest shark diving experiences in the world. The islands have protected sharks in their waters creating one of the first Shark Sanctuaries in the world. Several species of shark can be seen and photographed, with each island offering a different type of shark diving, making this destination the perfect place for a multi-island, multi-shark trip of a lifetime.

Great Hammerhead Shark diving in Bimini

Bull Sharks in Bimini

Tiger Shark off Grand Bahama

Oceanic Whitetip Shark off Cat Island

Nurse Shark off Abaco

Caribbean Reef Sharks off New Providence

Lemon Sharks off Grand Bahama

For more images from The Bahamas and around the world, visit the Frogfish Photography website by clicking here.

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