This 81-Meter Superyacht Was Engineered With Space Technology

The superyacht designed with space engineering is a first taste of how space exploration will transform other industries.
Brad Bergan

The Dutch shipbuilder Royal Huisman used an engineering process developed by the European Space Agency (ESA) for space missions in the design of the superyacht Sea Eagle II — expected to become the largest aluminum sailing yacht in the world upon delivery to its owner this Spring.


Space engineering a superyacht

The uniquely modern 81-meter (266-foot) long and three-masted schooner was moved via barge from Royal Huisman's shipyard in Vollenhove to the company's Amsterdam shipyard, to undergo the installation of a sleek composite rig, after which the ship will be ready for sea trials, and crew training.

The Sea Eagle II's contemporary style is laced in its design, which is in vogue at the Concurrent Design Facility (CDF) at ESA's technical center ESTEC in Noordwijk, the Netherlands. Here is where the apex of superyacht fashion was developed through the preliminary design and evaluation of future space missions and systems.

"Satellites and superyachts are both complex machines, and concurrent engineering is advantageous in designing any complex system," said the Founder of ESA's CDF, Massimo Bandecchi. "The basic idea is simple: bring together all necessary experts and design tools into a single room to work together as a team on a shared software model that updates immediately as changes are made, to assess design feasibility and trade-offs in a much more effective and reliable way."

Royal Huisman's vogue design

The primary focus of CDF, said Bandecchi, is to answer the call of ESA engineering's needs, but there has also been growing interest in the company's work from other industries. "Concurrent engineering's improved performance in terms of time, cost and efficiency speaks for itself," said Bandecchi. More than 50 centers were built in line with ESA's first CDF model, now operating across Europe, he said. Most are in the space sector, but roughly 10 apply their unique design for non-space centers, he added.

Royal Huisman's Design and Engineering Manager Stefan Coronel was mentored by Massimo and his team, before he set up his own room: "Yacht building is not rocket science, but it does involve a complex, multi-disciplinary system, with lots of trade-offs to be decided," said Coronel.

As the economic role of space travel grows, stylistic choices will bleed into more and more industries of the world, affecting the conceptual design of common and luxury goods. All will transform. Royal Huisman's modern superyacht design is an early instance of this, tracing the emergent style that comes from exploring space into the aspirational lifestyles we want on terra firma.

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