OceanGate co-founder envisions sending 1,000 humans to Venus by 2050 - Hindustan Times
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OceanGate co-founder envisions sending 1,000 humans to a ‘floating colony’ on Venus by 2050

Jul 30, 2023 08:44 PM IST

Guillermo Söhnlein said there is a sliver of the Venusian atmosphere about 30 miles from the surface where humans could theoretically survive.

OceanGate Expeditions co-founder Guillermo Söhnlein announced his aspiration to send 1,000 humans to Venus, often referred to as Earth's sister planet, by the year 2050. The statement comes as the company faces an investigation about an imploded submersible named ‘Titan’, which was on an expedition towards the wreckage of the Titanic ship in the deep ocean that killed five passengers. The submersible went missing on June 18, and the US Coast Guards announced that they found the debris on June 22 after confirming reports of oxygen running out.

OceanGate Expeditions co-founder Guillermo Söhnlein (Facebook/Guillermo Söhnlein)
OceanGate Expeditions co-founder Guillermo Söhnlein (Facebook/Guillermo Söhnlein)

Also Read | OceanGate CEO's friend accuses him of intentionally endangering passenger's life, calls Titan sub a 'mouse trap'

Speaking to the Insider, Söhnlein said, “I think it is less aspirational than putting a million people on the Martian surface by 2050,” despite all the safety concerns raised about OceanGate's approach to innovation and safety.

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If you are thinking about how he has planned for the stay of these humans on the planet, he points to research that suggests there is a sliver of the Venusian atmosphere about 30 miles from the surface where humans could theoretically survive because temperatures are lower, and pressure is less intense. “This floating colony will be of 1,000 people capacity,” is what the OceanGate co-founder said, though he was unclear about how this will exactly happen.

How to live in the ‘warmest’ planet?

According to NASA, Venus has a dense, poisonous atmosphere with lots of carbon dioxide. It's always covered in thick, yellowish clouds made of sulfuric acid that trap heat, leading to a runaway greenhouse effect. Even though Mercury is closer to the Sun, Venus is actually the hottest planet in our solar system. Surface temperatures there can reach a scorching 900 degrees Fahrenheit (475 degrees Celsius), enough to melt lead. The planet's surface has a rusty color and is dotted with tightly packed mountains and numerous large volcanoes.

Beneath it’s soothing white clouds, Venus is a hellscape. Above left is a computer-simulated view of the planet’s surface, created in 2020, using data from NASA’s 1989 Magellan mission. Also in 2020, data from an earlier Mariner 10 mission was revisited with new imaging software, to generate a clearer view of the planet as seen from afar (above right). (NASA / JPL-CalTech)
Beneath it’s soothing white clouds, Venus is a hellscape. Above left is a computer-simulated view of the planet’s surface, created in 2020, using data from NASA’s 1989 Magellan mission. Also in 2020, data from an earlier Mariner 10 mission was revisited with new imaging software, to generate a clearer view of the planet as seen from afar (above right). (NASA / JPL-CalTech)

For this, Söhnlein said, “If a space station could be designed to withstand the sulfuric acid in the clouds, hundreds to thousands of people could someday live in the Venusian atmosphere.”

What has the OceanGate co-founder always dreamt of?

The Insider report further said that Söhnlein collects companies that bring him nearer to his ultimate ambition to “push humanity beyond its natural boundaries on Earth.”

“I think I've been driven to help make humanity a multi-planet species since I was 11 years old,” he said. “I had this recurring dream of being the commander of the first Martian colony,” he added.

Söhnlein compares Venus program to Musk's SpaceX

OceanGate's goal was to create cheap crewed submersibles that could be chartered to explore the depths of the sea and the technologies developed along the way to achieve this goal would likely be useful in helping humans travel to space. He compared this with Elon Musk's SpaceX, which aims to put millions of people on the surface of Mars. SpaceX has achieved this through the development of reusable rockets, Starlink, and its Starship mega-rockets.

Also Read | Rover uncovers Martian ‘diverse organic matter’, insights into Mars' search for extraterrestrial life

Söhnlein then talked about 'Humans2Venus,' the venture studio co-founded by him and entrepreneur Khalid Al-Ali. This studio will come up with creative business concepts and startup ideas to overcome commercial barriers to sending humans to Venus.

OceanGate's Submersible incident

The Titan Submersible from OceanGate Expeditions experienced a devastating collapse, leading to the immediate deaths of all five passengers on board. The individuals on the tourist craft were OceanGate CEO Stockton Rush, 61, British billionaire Hamish Harding, 58, renowned Titanic expert Paul-Henri Nargeolet, 77, prominent Pakistani businessman Shahzada Dawood, 48, and his 19-year-old son, Sulaiman Dawood.

The submersible went missing on June 18, 2023. When it entered the water, it had around 96 hours of oxygen, which was expected to run out on June 22, 2023. The surface vessel, Polar Prince, lost contact with the submersible about one hour and 45 minutes after it started its dive to the Titanic's wreckage site.

On June 22, 2023, the US Coast Guard reported discovering a significant debris field within the designated search area. They found parts of the missing submersible, including its landing frame and rear cover.

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