In a maritime odyssey that echoes the exploration ethos of the Space Age, SAGA recently plunged into the depths of the sea for a comprehensive testing phase and data collection mission. The endeavor, initiated in September 2023, saw SAGA submerging its underwater habitat and research facility, marking a significant stride towards the development of a fully-fledged domicile designed to accommodate three researchers.
Dubbed the Deep Habitat, this pioneering project by SAGA aspires to revolutionize marine and oceanic research, extending its reach to include even astronaut training. Prior to its aquatic expedition, the space architects at SAGA had already pioneered a circadian lighting system, designed to enhance the quality of sleep for astronauts navigating the cosmos. Presently, their underwater habitat, nestled beneath the waters of Denmark, serves as a portal for researchers to intimately study marine life and immerse themselves in the intricacies of oceanic ecosystems, meticulously observing their rhythmic cycles.
The testing phase witnessed the creation of a modest, one-person pilot habitat, fully equipped with the essential subsystems vital for sustaining life beneath the waves. All the technological components vital for a comprehensive underwater habitat were incorporated into this prototype. Sebastian Aristotelis, one of SAGA’s founders, undertook a 48-hour exploration within the seabed confines of the pilot habitat during testing. The amassed data is slated to inform the development of the full-scale habitat and guide further considerations and evaluations before the grand unveiling of the three-person version in 2026.
Looking ahead to 2026, SAGA anticipates showcasing the culmination of its endeavors—the full-scale underwater habitat capable of accommodating three researchers. Positioned at a depth exceeding 10 meters beneath the sea, this habitat is envisioned as a hub for month-long research expeditions. Beyond its role as a marine research facility, it is poised to serve as a training ground for astronauts, a function currently exclusive to the United States.
Unlike its pod-like precursor, the three-person habitat assumes the appearance of a vertical tank, fostering a more commodious interior for researchers and allowing for increased cargo capacity. SAGA contends that underwater habitats offer invaluable insights into the physical and psychological challenges confronted by astronauts during prolonged space missions.
Drawing parallels between the Martian surface and the seabed, SAGA underscores the shared environmental characteristics—devoid of breathable air, sun exposure, pressure differentials, poor visibility, and a sense of isolation. The underwater experience, they argue, closely simulates the conditions of space, inspiring a meticulous architectural approach aimed at fostering performance, stimulation, and a non-claustrophobic environment.
Features from the pilot habitat, such as ballast tanks facilitating descent and ascent, are poised to be integrated into the full-scale version. Additional design elements include high-pressure tanks stocked with air and breathable gas as a contingency, a primary tank boasting 1,800 liters of habitable space, robust polycarbonate windows for external observation, concrete ballast for buoyancy regulation, and adaptable feet catering to the uneven seabed terrain. As of the publication of this narrative, the SAGA team is diligently constructing the full-scale underwater habitat, with a steadfast commitment to meet the 2026 deadline.