Virgin Oceanic sub to explore the deep

Courtesy of Sportdiver Magazine online
Sir Richard with the sub

Sir Richard Branson has unveiled the new Virgin Oceanic submersible, a one-man craft that is set to break a host of records while exploring the deepest ocean trenches.

The billionaire and long-time adventurer is to send the sub to the deepest points in all five of the world’s oceans, a feat which has never before been attempted.

Each of the five dives will be manned by a different person, with Sir Richard himself piloting the second descent to the Puerto Rico trench, the deepest point in the Atlantic. He is also the back-up pilot for the first and deepest dive, the Mariana Trench in the Pacific, which has a depth of 36,201ft (11,033m).

Sir Richard told the AFP: “With space long ago reached by man, and commercial spaceflight tantalizingly close, the last great challenge for humans is to reach and explore the depths of our planet’s oceans. More men have been to the moon than have been down further than 20,000 feet.”

As well as looking to break 30 world records, Sir Richard is also hoping the expeditions will prove to be of scientific value. A number of academic institutions have partnered with Virgin for the two-year challenge, including the Scripps Institution of Oceanography.

“From a scientific point of view, this is akin to discovering the Amazon for the first time. The amount that they’re going to discover down there is incalculable,” he added.

The submarine is currently undergoing further pressure tests to ensure it can withstand pressures of up to 1,000 times normal atmospheric pressure.

To read Sir Richard’s blog, click here.

And to check out how deep the sub aims to go compared to other vehicles and animals in the deep, click here.