An open letter to Senator Barack Obama, or anyone else that will listen: 

President John Kennedy championed the space program. Consider the potential of your promotion of an undersea laboratory or colony. Image the challenge and rewards of developing the first serious human presence under the sea. A fully functional permanent undersea city. O.k., how about village? Challenge the world to develop a full scale undersea laboratory capable of housing up to 100 persons 24/7 year round. It would be placed in relatively shallow water (<100 ft) with future satellite stations at intermediate (>1000 ft) and deep depths (>3000 ft).

Every generation looks for an inspiration, a goal, a challenge to strive for that does not necessarily arise out of some dire necessity. I’m talking about pure awe inspired “lets do this just to see if we can” goals, not because we have to. Leisure goals. I’m not talking about human rights, national security, health, economics etc. which are absolutely important, and transcend leisure goals. But my “leisure goal” label belies the great importance of such endeavors for the human spirit. Forty years ago, we had what might be argued to be a major leisure goal in the form of the space race. Yes, national security, etc. were all part of it. But I believe the real driving force was the same that drives us to climb mountains...that is just because its there and we can. It just took a great leader to inspire us to reach for the moon.

I think that space exploration is still of great importance (yes I’m a star trek fan), but I think we are ready for another type of space race. Inner space. Exploration of the seas. When I was a kid, I saw a movie called “Hello Down There” in which a man invents an undersea house and has his family live in it for a month to prove people can live in the sea. When I was a kid, we all assumed that people would be living in undersea houses by the time we grew up. And I wanted one! That was in 1969 - four decades ago, and it’s a sad fact that we have barely even put a handful of scientists in the water much less developed underwater houses or real full-scale underwater laboratories. True, a small undersea laboratory was established decades ago in the Carribean (the NOAA Tektite project), but that program ended long ago. Today, the only manned undersea research laboratory in the world is the Aquarius lab in Florida run by the NOAA National Undersea Research Program. But as worthy as that program is, it is just an after-thought to the space program. A token undersea laboratory. And even there, the National Undersea Research Program has received only very limited funding in recent years, and a zero dollar budget this year!

What we need is a leader who is up to the challenge of inspiring the nation and the world to work together and develop a real habitat for man in the sea. A real functioning undersea colony. Image all the technological benefits that such a program would bring. It would of course be important to instill into the program a great concern for the environment so that our first real colony in the sea does no harm.

Are you up to the challenge of inspiring us to reach into the sea? Wouldn't that be a great legacy?
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