Richard Branson hasn't even finished conquering space yet and he's already got a new pet project. He’s only gone and commissioned the first ever piloted submarine with “full ocean depth" capabilities to kick off his Virgin Oceanic expedition.
That’s right, him and that winning smile of his will be cruising deeper than military submarines operate (1020m), deeper than the Titanic’s final resting place (3810m) and deeper than any shipwreck discovered (5,762m).
The plan is for Branson and explorer Chris Welsh to reach the five deepest points in each of the five oceans, including the 11,034m deep Marina Trench in the Pacific Ocean. Each solo pilot will be doing it in 8,000 pounds of carbon fibre and titanium genius design from Graham Hawkes.
As it "flies" above the ocean floor collecting video and data, the quartz dome of this one-person sub will be under 13 million pounds of pressure – that’s the weight of three space shuttles, apparently.
And if anything goes wrong as Branson and Welsh divvy up the oceans between them, no rescue team will be able to reach them. Gulp. Branson quipped, “If we survive it, we’ll hopefully have better conversations at the dinner table in future.”
The idea is that after this trial, Virgin Oceanic will be taking tourists to the ocean floor while Virgin Galactic is flying them into space. Expect to sell your house for the price of a ticket.