As Rush was traveling through these depths, with particulates in the water illuminated by the Titan’s light, he says it felt like journeying through a star field. The voyages have helped him fulfill a childhood dream of becoming an astronaut. “I was exploring space, but I’m exploring inner space,” he explains.
Like most explorers, Rush isn’t content with what he’s achieved. OceanGate is already working on its next generation submersible, which will be capable of descending to 6,000 meters. “With 4,000 meters, we only have access to half the ocean,” says Rush. “At 6,000 meters, 98% of the ocean is accessible.”
Using the Sun to Cross the Ice
Edwin ter Velde and his wife Lisbeth, explorers from The Netherlands, are on a mission they call a “quest for change.” After committing to a zero-waste lifestyle, they embarked upon a unique adventure to draw attention to that cause and to inspire people to live sustainably. Starting in mid-December 2018, they traveled for 30 days across Antarctica and toward the South Pole in a solar-powered vehicle made primarily from recycled plastic materials. They called the journey Clean 2 Antarctica (C2A).
Traveling across Antarctica isn’t an easy undertaking even in conventional, heavy-duty motor vehicles. It is the Earth’s coldest, driest and windiest continent, with average temperatures ranging from minus 76 degrees Fahrenheit at its highest elevations to a balmy 14 degrees along the coast. Any vehicle making this journey must be manufactured from materials that can withstand both the rigors of Antarctica’s climate and its rough, icy terrain. The Solar Voyager had that strength, in part because of the efforts of the Teijin Group.
Edwin ter Velde had initially asked Teijin to help sponsor the trip. “But we thought that partnering up and becoming part of this adventure by supporting it with the Teijin Group’s materials and knowledge would be a better way for us to support them,” says Martijn van der Leeden, new business developer, Solution 2.0, Teijin Limited. “Teijin provided lightweight and high-strength materials for Solar Voyager’s body and structure materials and supported the design and analysis of the tires.”
The Solar Voyager consisted of a truck and two trailers that carried the power-generating solar panels. Its total length was about 52.5 feet, and it weighed approximately 3,275 pounds.
The vehicle’s body was constructed from HexCores, which fit together like the pieces of a puzzle. HexCores are 3D-printed from filament made from recycled polyethylene terephthalate (PET), a waste plastic that children in the Dutch city of Zwolle helped collect for the C2A project. The base HexCore shape is a honeycombed hexagon about .8 inches thick, but the C2A team also had to print PET corners, edges and mounting points to create the hull. About 137 different forms were printed, with a total of 2,500 of the printed shapes required for the Solar Voyager construction.