Growing up just a few miles from the Johnson Space Center in Houston, USA, Darby Magruder dreamed of living in space.
He became an engineer, joined Nasa and worked alongside astronauts. But he came closest to his dream when he took some space shuttle technology and made it work, against the odds, in the cold, dark depths of the UK’s North Sea.
And it only happened because of three vast concrete structures that, for the last 40 years or so, have been providing a solid base for a trio of oil and gas platforms off the coast of Scotland.
The Shell-operated Brent Bravo, Brent Charlie and Brent Delta were put into position in the 1970s: each one weighing more than 300,000 tonnes and as tall as the Eiffel Tower.
At the bottom of the structures are 64 hollow concrete vessels that have been used to store oil and help anchor the platforms.