For those of a certain age, the name “Jacques Cousteau” bring back memories of “The Undersea World of Jacques Cousteau,” a popular documentary series running from 1968-1975 and on in reruns, starring the craggy French scuba diver and explorer and his boat, the Calypso. Those shows occasionally featured his young grandson, Fabien Cousteau. Fabien is now a not-so-craggy aquanaut, conservationist and filmmaker in his own right. While billionaire ‘explorers’ like Musk, Bezos and Branson have their sights on space travel and space stations, Fabien is following in his grandfather’s wet footsteps and looking at the ocean floor as the place to save humanity – specifically, in an undersea version of the International Space Station. Is our future in flippers?
“Ocean exploration is 1,000 times more important than space exploration for — selfishly — our survival, for our trajectory into the future. It’s our life support system. It is the very reason why we exist in the first place.”
Good point, Fabien. In a recent press release, Cousteau and his partner, industrial designer Yves Béhar, describe PROTEUS™ – a two-story combination of cylinders and spheres which will be powered by solar, wind and thermal energy and house laboratories, personal quarters, medical facilities, food preparation areas, a video production facility (of course – runs in the family) and the first underwater greenhouse.
Cousteau sees the similarities between space and underwater living and wants to take the success of the ISS and put it in the Caribbean Sea with new features to make the isolated life of up to 12 aquanauts productive, comfortable and healthy. He studied previous underwater research habitats and spent 31 days in the 400-square-foot Aquarius off the Florida Keys, which was originally built by NOAA and saved by Florida International University after the NOAA lost government funding. Which brings us to why Béhar and Cousteau has been talking to CNN and other media sites.
“Like all big dreams, it will need further development. But one of the ways we’ve done fundraising in the last few months is by sharing this concept and sharing this dream.”
Proteus is still in the concept stage and will remain there until Cousteau and Béhar raise a measly $135 million. So far, all he has is a team and a great website at The Fabien Cousteau Ocean Learning Center, where more details on the PROTEUS™ are available and donations can be made.
Doesn’t that sound like a better solution to our problems than waiting for Elon to take us to Mars?
Grandpa Jacques would be proud.
(Feature image of Fabien Cousteau’s PROTEUS™ from Concept designs by Yves Béhar and fuseproject at The Fabien Cousteau Ocean Learning Center)