Home Tech The Titan submersible disaster shocked the world. The inside story is more disturbing than anyone imagined

The Titan submersible disaster shocked the world. The inside story is more disturbing than anyone imagined

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 The Titan submersible disaster shocked the world. The inside story is more disturbing than anyone imagined

Ocean sciences The University of Washington building in Seattle is a bright, modern four-story structure, with large glass windows that reflect the bay across the street.

On the afternoon of July 7, 2016, they were slowly closing it.

Red lights began to flash at the entrances as students and teachers filed out under a cloudy sky. In the end, only a handful of people remained inside, preparing to unleash one of the most destructive forces in the natural world: the crushing weight of approximately 2½ miles of ocean water.

In the building’s high-pressure testing facility, a black pill-shaped capsule hung from a lift on the ceiling. About 3 feet long, it was a scale model of a submersible called cyclops 2, developed by a local startup called OceanGate. The company’s CEO, Stockton Rush, co-founded the company in 2009 as a kind of submarine charter service, anticipating a growing need for commercial and research trips to the ocean floor. At first, Rush acquired older, steel-hulled submarines for expeditions, but by 2013 OceanGate had begun designing what the company called “a revolutionary new manned submersible.” Among the submarine’s innovations was its lightweight hull, constructed of carbon fiber and which could accommodate more passengers than the spherical cabins traditionally used in deep-sea diving. In 2016, Rush’s dream was to take paying customers to the most famous shipwreck of all: the Titanic3,800 meters below the surface of the Atlantic Ocean.

The engineers carefully lowered the cyclops 2 model in the test tank nose first, like a bomb that is loaded into a silo and then bolted onto the 3,600-pound lid of the tank. They then began pumping water, increasing the pressure to mimic the immersion of a submersible. If you are at sea level, the weight of the atmosphere above you exerts 14.7 pounds per square inch (psi). The deeper you go, the stronger the pressure; in it TitanicAt depth, the pressure is approximately 6,500 psi. Soon, the pressure gauge on the UW test tank read 1,000 psi and counting: 2,000 psi, 5,000 psi. At approximately the 73rd minute, when the pressure in the tank reached 6,500 psi, there was a sudden roar and the tank shook violently.

“I felt it in my body,” an OceanGate employee wrote in an email that same night. “The building shook and my ears were ringing for a long time.”

“It scared the hell out of everyone,” he added.

The model had imploded thousands of meters below the safety margin that OceanGate had designed.

In the high-stakes, high-cost world of manned submersibles, most engineering teams would have gone back to the drawing board, or at least ordered more models to test. Rush’s company did none of those things. Instead, within a few months, OceanGate began building a full-scale system. cyclops 2 based on the imploded model. This submersible design, later renamed Titanfinally reached the Titanic in 2021. He even returned to the site for expeditions over the next two years. But almost a year ago, on June 18, 2023, Titan He dove into the infamous wreck and imploded, instantly killing all five people on board, including Rush himself.

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