China has been trying to explore every frontier in science and technology, from outer space to the elements of an atom.
Now, Chinese scientists are determined to probe secrets found in the deepest parts of the oceans as they develop a manned submersible capable of reaching the bottom of Marianas Trench in the western Pacific Ocean. At a depth of 11,034 meters, it is the deepest trench on Earth.
The submersible, which has yet to be named, is being designed at China Ship Scientific Research Center in Wuxi, Jiangsu province and will conduct its first trial within five years, according to Wang Junli, deputy director of science and technology at China Shipbuilding Industry Corp, the world's largest shipbuilder and parent company of the center.
Wang said at a news briefing on Tuesday in Beijing that the submersible will be able to operate anywhere with its several crew members.
The preliminary design for the deep-sea craft has been completed and engineers have begun to develop major devices on it, Wang said, adding that most of its equipment will be developed in China.
A news release previously distributed by CSIC showed the submersible is part of the government's Key Deep-Sea Technology and Equipment Program, and its development started in July 2016.
The chief designer is Ye Cong, 38, a senior researcher at the center. He has carried out nearly 40 deep-sea dives with the Jiaolong, China's first manned deep-sea submersible, the release said.
The nation operates two manned deep-sea submersibles - Jiaolong and Shenhai Yongshi - both of which were made by CSIC.
Jiaolong was developed at Ye's institute and entered service in 2010, making China the fifth country with deepsea exploration technology after the United States, France, Russia and Japan.
On the most recent mission, which lasted 138 days, from February to June, Jiaolong conducted 30 dives in the South China Sea and the northwestern Indian and northwestern Pacific oceans to make scientific investigations and collect samples. It is now undergoing a yearlong overhaul and upgrade.
Shenhai Yongshi, with a 4,500-m maximum depth, was delivered to the Chinese Academy of Sciences in December and will be based in Sanya, Hainan province.