Larry Connor preps for dive to depths of Mariana Trench

CINCINNATI – Real estate investor and philanthropist Larry Connor has only nine months left to guide a historic mission in space. He is said to do two dives in the deepest part of the ocean at more than 35,000 feet.

Connor said he plans to explore both the Challenger Deep and Sirena Deep in the Mariana Trench in the Pacific near Guam, he told the Cincinnati Enquirer, which is part of the USA TODAY Network.

The “Hadal Zone” or the area of ​​the ocean below 20,000 feet is considered the final frontier of exploration on earth. “Hadal exploration” is exploration at depths below 20,000 feet or 6,000 meters.

The focus is on groundbreaking scientific research that Connor, with the help of EYOS Expeditions and Caladan Oceanic, will bring the Hadal Exploration System, the world’s only deep exploration facility, to depths of 35,856 feet and 35,150 feet, respectively.

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The two dives are tentatively scheduled for April 15th and 17th, but they are weather dependent. So you could dive sooner or later, said Connor.

Larry Connor.

From the depths of the ocean to the ISS

Only two other people have traveled to the bottom of the Sirena Deep – Alan Jamieson and Victor Vescovo.

Connor, the founder and CEO of The Connor Group, a real estate investment firm based in Dayton, Ohio, said Patrick Lahey will pilot the mission. Lahey, CEO and owner of Triton Submarines, has completed more than 10,000 dives and is considered the most experienced dive pilot in the world.

The opportunity for “scientific discovery” and the ability to maintain Ohio’s propensity for innovation, research and discovery motivated Connor to join the Ocean Abyss Mission.

“I’m thrilled to be part of this expedition and have the opportunity to do valuable scientific research,” he said, noting that there is always a chance to make a discovery that has never been seen before.

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Expedition Leader Rob McCallum is the primary mission planner. His team has completed more than 1,200 successful missions. The captain of the expedition ship (DSSV Pressure Drop), Capt. Stuart Buckle and Jamieson, the expedition’s chief scientist.

McCallum calls the area of ​​the dive the final frontier of exploration on earth.

“Connor’s mission will be a first in some ways. It will be the first to travel into the depths of the Challenger and Sirena Depths and then to the International Space Station,” McCallum said when speaking with the Guam Enquirer Tuesday afternoon .

Connor is scheduled to pilot a private mission to the ISS with Axiom Space in Houston for Axiom Mission 1 (Ax-1) in 2022.

Former astronaut Kathy Sullivan and private astronaut Richard Garriott are the only ones to have traveled both into space and to the bottom of the deepest ocean on earth.

“Exploring our ocean has never been more important and privately funded science will be key to unlocking the secrets of the deep. This is the path of future exploration and science. What I like about Larry is that he wants his dives to benefit science or other people. He’s not interested in doing this just to set a record. “

He added that the Hadal exploration system consists of a ship and the world’s only certified full-depth submersible.

“That means it is the only vehicle in the world that can go to any depth in any ocean that we developed three years ago for owner Victor Viscovo. He wanted to be the first to get to the deepest point in each of the depths moves.” five oceans in the world, “explained McCallum

The two dives are carried out in the state-of-the-art DSV limitation factor with full sea depth.

Limiting Factor ended the Five Deeps Expedition in 2019 by successfully diving to the deepest point of each of the five oceans.

The journey into the depths of the trenches takes about four hours, and according to Connor, the crew will spend about four hours doing scientific research before heading back to the surface for four hours.

McCallum said the dive is approximately 7 miles and the DSV Limiting Factor is equipped with 4K cameras that can shine and film in any direction.

“There are 3 viewports that can later extract data,” he said.

The first deep dive in the Mariana Trench was recorded in 1960 when U.S. Navy Lt. Don Walsh was accompanied by the Swiss engineer Jacques Piccard to complete the mission in the Pacific Ocean.

“We didn’t have the technology to go back there until Hollywood director James Cameron did in 2012,” said McCallum. “Jim was down there for 2 hours, then we went back with Victor in 2019.”

Follow the Cincinnati Enquirer on Twitter: @enquirer

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