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Thanks to composite materials, personal submarines are more common than ever

History books may mark the end of the Age of Discovery as occurring in the 1700s, but the edges of our map just keep expanding. Whereas Columbus depended upon coffers of Spanish gold to send him across the world, today’s explorers depend on something much more valuable — technology. We’ve explored space with our shuttles, the aerial landscape with drones, and now, you can live your own version of Jules Verne’s 20,000 Leagues Under The Sea with a personal submarine. With the DeepFlight Dragon, you can brave the depths of the ocean and discover new landscapes 150 feet below the surface.

Sure, the Dragon will cost you a pretty penny, with a price tag of $1.5 million. But if you’re dead set on going underwater, there’s actually a burgeoning market for below-sea-level watercraft. And it’s all thanks to some pretty revolutionary technology.

As CNN reports, one of the main reasons for this recent rise in personal submarine availability lies in the emergence of composite materials. Underwater vehicles are exposed to extremely harsh environments — there’s the salt water, the high pressure, and of course, the inherent safety risks of diving deep under the ocean surface. But watercraft like the Dragon have managed to address these issues by making use of special composites that neither rust nor corrode, and of course, won’t crack under pressure.

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Carbon fiber, which was really only introduced en masse relatively recently, is now utilized in a number of these personal submarines, like the Scubster. And while this guy won’t dive quite as deep as the Dragon (only 20 feet compared to 400 feet), it’s still a submarine.

There are a number of other options on the market as well — there’s the Triton, and SEAmagine, and the EGO-Compact semisubmarine. There’s also the $80,000 Seabreacher X, which is one of the most inexpensive options available. But no matter what you choose, the thrill of coming up close and personal with the denizens of the deep blue is pretty incomparable. After all, with only five percent of the ocean explored, there’s plenty of adventuring left to do.