University of Essex plans to build 'outer space' swimming pool
A university hopes to build the world's deepest and largest swimming pool to recreate the conditions of outer space.
The University of Essex has begun initial discussions to build the research, training and development pool in Colchester.
The pool would be 50 metres long and 50 metres deep and would be the UK and Europe's leading marine and space research facility.
The project, which could cost £40 million, would simulate outer space and deep sea environments which could be used in space-flight programmes.
The university's registrar Bryn Morris said: "This is a very exciting proposal for us, with many elements that fit very well with our strengths as a university."
He said the university had already carried out work with robotic fish and had specialisms, including marine conservation, which could complement the project.
The university aims to work with Colchester-based company Blue Abyss to turn the plan into a reality.
John Vickers, managing director of Blue Abyss, said: "Being based in Colchester, we were delighted that the university has enthusiastically backed our vision to create this world leading research facility.
"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.
"We are now intent on developing links with a number of the world's highest profile organisations and companies and see this as a key step towards realising our objectives."
Tim Peake, the next European Space Agency (ESA) astronaut, has expressed support for the project.
He said: "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. In my view this will be an outstanding 'European facility'."