China plans 'deep-sea base project'
Manned submersible test pioneers oceanic programme
China is to test a manned submersible capable of descending to 7,000 metres (23,000ft)* beneath the waves as part of a planned "deep-sea base project", the China Internet Information Centre reports.
Xinhua news agency is keeping tight-lipped on details, but notes that the submersible programme will enjoy "equal importance with China's space endeavours", as the State Oceanic Administration puts it.
The first phase of the mysterious base project is slated for completion by 2010, and it'll be equipped to carry out "deep-sea natural resource inspections as well as research and testing of equipment designed for deep-sea use". ®
*Impressive, but some way short of the all-time record, achieved in 1960 by the US's bathyscaphe Trieste which, with its crew of two, hit the bottom of the Marianas Trench at 10,900m (35,800ft).