Business mogul and seasoned adventurer Sir Richard Branson is at it once again. This time the Virgin-voyage will travel to the deepest frontier of our own blue planet; to the very bottom of our seas. Virgin Oceanic, Branson”s latest venture, is charting yet another course in human exploration. Over the course of the next two years, Virgin Oceanic’s one-person submarine will journey to the deepest part of the Earth’s five oceans.
Virgin Oceanic”s first dive will be to the deepest waters on the planet: the bottom of the Mariana Trench – 11 kilometers (7 miles) straight down. This will be the first time since 1960 that human eyes have set sight here – when the bathyscaphe, Trieste (which moved straight up & down like a hot air balloon) briefly touched down carrying co-pilots Don Walsh and Jacques Piccard. This time a sub that flies more like an airplane will allow the solo pilot, Chris Welsh, not only to reach the deepest point on Earth, but then to “fly” along the bottom of the Trench for an additional 10 kilometers (nearly 6 miles). Altogether, the submarine should end up diving deeper than
any operating military sub or sperm whale, and much deeper than the Titanic”s final resting place.
Branson, a British billionaire who has already set various travel and speed records, said the goal of the dives was to make scientific discoveries, such as cataloging new species of sealife, and to “educate the world about secrets hidden in its depths.” However, being hard-wired to think as a businessman, he is also keeping in mind possible deep-sea travel possibilities. ”Great businesses can come from great challenges,” Branson said. “We believe there are thousands of people who would like to experience oceans and become aquanauts.”
A move into uncharted travel-industry waters wouldn”t be an odd one for Virgin. The company already has its Virgin Galactic space-travel business up and running, with the inaugural manned flight taking place last October and commercial flights expected to become available within the next couple years.