BROOK PARK, Ohio — Thanks to the NASA Glenn Research Center, we have heard the road to the moon goes through Ohio.
The outer space game is changing from government to commercial ventures. Now a new company wants to train those working in space and other extreme environments here on Earth. That company has selected Northeast Ohio to be its first U.S. home.
It's another exciting step in space exploration, as several commercial space stations are on the drawing board. But who will operate them? That's where Blue Abyss comes in. The British start-up company is planning a $250 million training complex, featuring a giant pool and hotel, right here in Northeast Ohio.
“With an emphasis on marine side offshore energy, renewable underwater technology, subsea robotics, for instance, and then through human physiology. How do humans behave in extreme and respond to extreme environments. And then on the space side, catering towards a commercial future for human spaceflight,” said Blue Abyss, CEO John Vickers.
The images shown are of the facility currently under construction in Cornwall, England.
Blue Abyss training center could prepare next generation of astronauts
Its American counterpart will look similar, on a 12-acre site in brook park. A place where people can prepare to work in extreme environments. It is the brainchild of CEO John Vickers, who found inspiration in a childhood fascination with the Apollo Soyuz mission, as well as underwater explorer Jacques Cousteau.
“That similarity for me between oceans and space, extreme environments, you know, that whole cutting edge of humanity exploring at the extremes. Just has resided with me,” remarked Vickers.
Originally, Ohio was not the first choice for a U.S. facility, but when Vickers spoke at the Ohio Aerospace Institute, the Mayor of Brook Park just happened to be there.
“First thing I thought was this is coming to Brook Park. And immediately I made that known to Mr. Vickers,” said Edward Orcutt, the Mayor of Brook Park.
A short car trip to the parcel of land, across from Cleveland's airport and near the back gate to NASA Glenn Research Center, changed Vickers' thinking.
“So, it just felt right and thought, this feels like home,” said Vickers.
Seven months later, a deal was done. It was approved this week by Brook Park City Council.
Having both NASA Glenn and Blue Abyss in Brook Park is a thrilling prospect.
“We built the technology here in Brook Park to get that rocket from ground to space,” said Orcutt. “Now we have to train the people that will be able to get there and do the work.”
The project would create roughly 120 center jobs, 65 hotel jobs and $85 million worth of construction work.
“This is kind of our comeback. This this is putting us back on the map and letting people know that Brook Park is open for business,” stated Orcutt.
Blue Abyss will also have an aircraft for parabolic flight. It gives those inside a sense of weightlessness.
It's a feeling Vickers shares when thinks about what this facility can do, beyond serving clients.
“Engagement with the local community, school children, young people, people being able to come and use this facility when it's not booked industrially of an evening to come and listen to an astronaut lecture, come and use the hotel,” said Vickers.
Training the next generation of explores to face the deeps of the ocean or the harsh environment of space, begins in Northeast Ohio.
“This is much bigger than Brook Park. This is something for northeast Ohio and really for the entire world,” said Orcutt.
“The more we use this think, the more we can improve humanity's future, given how reliant we are on water and our oceans and our desire as a species to spread out from this planet. We need facilities like this to enable that. And I hope that we can aid in that ambition,” said Vickers.
Blue Abyss expects to train people two and a half years after the sale of the land in Brook Park is approved. The company is also looking to expand, exploring additional sites in Houston, Japan, and the Middle East.