SeaOrbiter to begin construction by year's end, project price tag clocks in at $527 million

Remember that USS Enterprise-esque ocean research vessel we first ran across back in 2005? Yes, the one that was originally slated to hit the open waters in 2008 or 2009. After catching heat for its lofty ambitions for the last 12 years, the SeaOrbiter is finally set to begin construction later this year. The ship is slated to measure 170 feet (51 meters) tall, but to stabilize the vessel over half of the vehicle would stay below the surface, providing all sorts of collection systems and useful tools. Not only does it look like something out of Minority Report, but the SeaOrbiter is 100% sustainable. The ship's power is set to come from solar, wind and wave power with biofuel in case nature doesn't cooperate -- when the vessel isn't adrift via ocean currents. Funding has been obtained for the $52.7 million undertaking, which will produce an endless amount of data on global warming and marine biology around the globe. For a look at some renders of the massive vehicle, click though the gallery below for a quick peek.

Gallery | 4 Photos

SeaOrbiter marine research vehicle