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Images: The Boy in the Alvin Sphere

Raymond Pechacek Sr. sits in his office at Hahn and Clay in Houston, Texas, around the time he supervised construction of the original Alvin personnel sphere in the early 1960s. (Courtesy of Raymond Pechacek Jr.)

Alvin pilot Bill Rainnie (left) and Earl Hays, first chairman of the WHOI Department of Applied Oceanography, test the deep submergence research vehicle Alvin in 1964. They were key figures involved in the design, construction, testing, and utilization of Alvin. (WHOI Archives)

Two hemispheres of titanium were forged in a plant in Wisconsin to create Alvin's new personnel sphere. Subsequently, engineers in California and Texas removed material from the hemishphere's interiors and exteriors to reduce its thickness to 3 inches. The sphere will be pressure tested next week in Anapolis, Md., before its scheduled arrivat at WHOI in July. (Photo courtesy of the Advanced Imaging & Visualization Laboratory, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution)

A preliminary view of the "new" Alvin, which will be assembled at WHOI starting in the summer of 2012. (Illustration by Megan Carroll, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution)

The new titanium personnel sphere for Alvin is set for loading into the chamber of a massive pressure-testing instrument at a Northrop Grumman facility in Annapolis, Md. The ram-like instrument at right seals the chamber, in which pressures will be increased to those simulating depths of 6,500 meters (the depth to which the sub will go) and higher. (Bruce Strickrott, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution)

Sensors on the sphere will gauge the sphere's response to pressures simulating depths of 6,500 meters and higher to verify that the design, material, and fabrication meet requirements for safe operation of the sub. (Courtesy of Kurt Uetz, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution)