DAYTON, Ohio (WDTN) – WDTN.com told you about Managing Partner of the Connor Group Larry Connor and his quest to make history by diving to the seafloor and heading into space within 12 months.
Connor is now officially halfway to history.
Larry Connor successfully completed three dives in just five days to the deepest ocean depths in the Mariana Trench this month, less than 10 months before he’s scheduled to pilot the first private mission to the International Space Station. He is on pace to make history as the first person to accomplish both feats within 12 months.
Connor dove with Patrick Lahey, president and co-founder of Triton Submarines, in a Triton 36000/2, named the DSV Limiting Factor. The pair gathered high-quality video footage and samples in the ‘hadal zone’ or the area of the ocean below 20,000 ft. – the final frontier of exploration on Earth.
“It was an amazing and surreal experience that went wonderfully well thanks to the incredibly talented and committed crew,” Connor said. “The technological advances, specifically by Triton’s record-breaking, first-of-its-kind submersible Limiting Factor, are nothing short of impressive.”
Connor and Lahey gathered footage of never-before-seen areas of the ocean floor. They captured footage of the Mariana snailfish (Pseudoliparis swirei), the only species of fish known to survive at a depth of 26,240 ft., or nearly the height of Mt. Everest, and countless sulfur mounds. They also recovered scientific samples of bacterial mats and deep-sea anemones.
“Capturing the Mariana snailfish on video is scientific gold,” chief scientist Dr. Alan Jamieson said. “Larry and Patrick are the first humans to spot this fish alive in its habitat. They also brought back hours of astonishing footage and samples that will help us better understand the geologic and biologic makeup of the hadal zone.”
The three explorations took Connor to the Challenger Deep, Sirena Deep and a seamount in the Mariana Trench, located in the Western Pacific Ocean near Guam. Captain Stuart Buckle commanded the expedition’s vessel (DSSV Pressure Drop) throughout the five-day mission led by expedition leader Rob McCallum of EYOS Expeditions. Connor’s dives to depths of nearly 36,000 feet into the ocean’s abyss covered more ground than researchers had previously accomplished between 1960 to 2015.
“Over that 55-year timeframe, only two dives had ever been completed to these depths,” Connor said. “To successfully complete three dives in just five days into the darkest, most inhospitable and unknown parts of Earth is an endeavor I was honored to be a part of.”
Scientists plan to study the information gathered on these three dives, which could further advance medical compounds, commercial resources and create a deeper understanding of evolution.
Now, Connor sets his sights on his next expedition to outer space and the International Space Station. He is scheduled to pilot the first private mission to the ISS with Houston-based Axiom Space for Axiom Mission 1 (Ax-1) in 2022. Connor is partnering with experts at the Mayo and Cleveland Clinics to again focus on scientific research during the eight-day mission.