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Korea Institute of Ocean Science & Technology

KIOST Takes First Step to Develop Undersea Space

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  • Date : 2022-04-15
Figure 1. Modular undersea space platform 바로보기 Figure 2. Outside view of modular undersea space platform 바로보기 Figure 3. Central research module 바로보기 Figure 4. Residence module 바로보기 Figure 5. Underwater data center module 바로보기 Figure 6. Underwater entry chamber module.jpg 바로보기

The Korea Institute of Ocean Science and Technology (KIOST) recently announced that it would begin, in earnest, to research the utilization of undersea space―which has long defied easy access―for a variety of purposes, in accordance with its selection by the Ministry of Oceans and Fisheries to lead the development of technologies for the "Submarine Space Creation and Utilization Technology Development Competition Project." The Project is expected to cost KRW 37.314 billion over five years (2022-2026) and be carried out by 2,323 institutions including KIOST.

Steady interest has appeared recently from the private sector in the development and utilization of undersea space, which has so far proven a tough field for initial investments due to the severe challenges and high level of technological innovation needed. Accordingly, the Ministry of Oceans and Fisheries agreed on the need for government-led technology development and has promoted its Submarine Space Creation and Utilization Technology Development Competition Project.

The project  is to be executed with the participation of private and public sector research institutions and including the academic sector. The research teams are expected to design underwater habitats and develop the technologies needed for their construction, operation, and maintenance to make effective use of undersea space.

They also plan to develop undersea platform technologies on which to build underwater research centers, residences, data centers, and underwater chambers. Researchers would also develop medical technologies for resident health and safety, as well as information and communications technology (ICT) to supply energy and communication in a marine environment. Additionally, they aim to install a modular underwater structure that ultimately allows three people to stay at a depth of 30 meters for 30 days to demonstrate the developed technology.


Due to its wide range of fields for research and application, a total of 23 institutions and companies, with KIOST the leading entity, will be participating in the project. The six participating companies* include Lotte Engineering & Construction, Hyundai Engineering & Construction, and SK Telecom, while the participating institutions include Korea Aerospace Research Institute and Soon Chun Hyang University Hospital.
* Six participating companies: Lotte Engineering & Construction, Hyundai Engineering & Construction, SK Telecom, Dong Myeong Engineering Consultants & Architecture, Ocean Space, Sangji Environment & Architects


Asia's first undersea space demonstration module will be built off the coast of the city of Ulsan, whose metropolitan government will also participate. The underwater environment off Ulsan is relatively easy to work in, in terms of turbidity, tide level, and water temperature, while there has been no seabed subsidence for the past 20 years, indicating a high degree of safety from natural disasters. Ulsan’s shipbuilding & offshore plant infrastructure makes it the optimal place for linking the mainland to the undersea platform project.


KIOST President Kim Woong-Seo stated, "It is meaningful that the Korea Institute of Ocean Science and Technology was selected to lead the research to utilize undersea space. It is my hope that the range of technologies that will be developed in the process of researching undersea platforms will also lead to people making greater use of the ocean and progress for the marine industry."

Han Taek-hee, the lead KIOST researcher for the project, stated, "The undersea platform is an aggregate of state-of-the-art marine science and technologies, much like those used in space stations. We will lead the project and do our best to see success, bringing marine science and technology to the next level."



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Last Update : 2022-11-14