Marine scientist Richard Cooper’s dream of a permanent lab next to Veatch has evolved into a $75 million project called the Ocean Atmosphere Seafloor Integration Study. Ocean Base One will be the first deep-sea research facility and will sit on the continental shelf, a full 550 feet beneath the ocean’s surface. (The next-deepest undersea lab is Aquarius, a mere 70 feet below, off Key Largo, Florida.) Cooper likens the concept to the International Space Station. His goal: to build a lab that can support life for weeks in a brutally unforgiving and isolated environment.

Ocean Base One will be 40,000 square feet of research and living quarters. A pressurized elevator housed in a watertight shaft will shuttle occupants to and from the lab.