After a $94 million rebuild, the Falkor, an ocean research vessel owned by the Schmidt Ocean Institute, just made its first showing in San Francisco this Tuesday. A crowd of 150 people were present for the unveiling, mostly friends of the Schmidts or supporters of the San Francisco’s science museum the Exploratorium, reports Kerry Dolan at Forbes.

Eric Schmidt

Eric Schmidt and his wife Wendy Schmidt have both expressed concern for the environment, and this project has been a way for them to get more directly involved. “The oceans are in trouble. They have absorbed so much carbon dioxide that they are destroying coral reefs and the bottom link of the food chain,” said Mrs. Schmidt. “When we spill in the ocean, we’re disrupting a generation of living species.”

Aim is to give researchers free access to the ship

The aim is to give researchers free access to the ship, as long as they agree to release all data to the public within two months of their voyage. That gives academics enough time to publish their findings and get credit for their hard work, but also guarantees that any work done aboard the Falkor will contribute to the greater body of data that climatologists and other scientists have at their disposal. This data will be open to anyone at the Schmidt Ocean Institute website.

Schmidt managed to refurbish ship “five times faster than government can”

There is already a great deal of interest among scientists who want to use the ship and its state-of-the-art facilities, with more than 120 applications for less than ten available slots. Fortunately, the scientists whose applications were accepted didn’t have to wait long for the ship to be rebuilt. According to Exploratorium executive director Dennis Bartels, the Schmidts managed to refurbish the ship “five times faster than any government can.”

Mrs. Schmidt is heavily involved in environmental advocacy, including the work she does through the 11th Hour Project, which funds 150 environmental groups, many based in the Nantucket area where Mrs. Schmidt reportedly spends her summers. The Falkor, named after the luckdragon from the Neverending Story, will set sail for Hawaii where researchers will study the formation of a new island in the Hawaiian chain located just east of the main island.