Work on the experimental "skyscraper ship" Sea Orbiter has started and the vessel is scheduled to launch as early as next year. Designed by French architect Jacques Rougerie, the 170-foot (51-meter) tall SeaOrbiter will be the first vertical research vessel of its kind.
Two-thirds of the vessel is underwater, accommodating for a team of 18-22 researchers, giving them the ability to spend 24 hours a day underwater. Above the waterline is the fin-like hull, which houses living-quarters, research labs, the observation deck and the bridge.
The $43 million ship is completely self-sustainable, obtaining power from the sun, wind and waves.
Partners, including Microsoft, IUCN and NASA, are already involved, according to the project's website.
Researchers will use the facilities for a variety of purposes, including studying marine biology and climate change, looking for shipwrecks, and utilizing pressurized environments to simulate time in space for astronauts.
Watch the project's promotional video below.