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China to build 4,500-meter manned submersible

Xinhua | Updated: 2013-09-17 15:42

ABOARD XIANGYANGHONG 09 - Chinese scientists have launched a program to build a new manned submersible expected to dive as deep as 4,500 meters and capable of carrying out scientific research on a majority of the earth's seabeds.

The program was revealed by Hu Zhen with China Shipbuilding Industry Corporation, who is in charge of the technology development of the submersible program under the Ministry of Science and Technology, in an interview on board the Xiangyanghong 09, carrier boat of the Jiaolong submersible. The Jiaolong has dived successfully to a depth of 7,062 meters, ranking China among the world's most advanced countries in the deep-sea submersible field.

Upon completing overall maintenance of the Jiaolong, Hu and his colleagues are scheduled to undertake study on developing a second deep-sea diving vehicle for the country's seabed research.

The country's first submersible, Jiaolong, has successfully carried out 73 deep-sea dives so far, Hu said, noting that its operations have become easier over time as the submersible has grown more reliable and stable.

The Jiaolong will soon be handed over to the China Ocean Mineral Resources Research and Development Association, and at that time study will focus on key technologies involved in the 4,500-meter submersible, the scientist told Xinhua.

According to Hu, the key parts of the new submersible, such as robotic arms and a high-pressure crew-compartment made of titanium alloy, will be developed independently by Chinese scientists.

The Jiaolong can reach as many as 99.8 percent of all seabeds on  Earth, and the new submersible is expected to be able to patrol most seabeds, including those in the South China Sea, Hu said.

The second submersible will have a number of new features compared to the older Jiaolong. It will have five windows for observing the seabed from different angles, and its manned capsule will have three seats and a ladder.

The new submersible will be easier and more comfortable for the crew to operate. Additionally, the new craft will be flat-bottomed, making it easier for the vehicle to be moved on board its carrier.

The new research program was recently inaugurated by the Ministry of Science and Technology, and the China Shipbuilding Industry Corporation will be responsible for development of the new submersible, Hu said.

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