Sir Richard Branson is no shrinking violet when it comes to innovation in exploration. The famed entrepreneur who is already constructing his own space base, has just announced he will being building deep sea exploration submarines that could take humans into the unplumbed depths of the earth’s oceans. Virgin Oceanic plans to explore five deep-sea trenches that humans have previously been unable to explore due to their extreme depth: the Mariana Trench, the Puerto Rico Trench, the Diamantina Trench, the South Sandwich Trench and the Molloy Deep in the Arctic Ocean. So, just who is crazy enough to fly a Virgin plane to the bottom of the ocean?
That’s an easy one: Richard Branson, of course. He and American explorer Chris Welsh will be manning the titanium and carbon fiber sub’s maiden voyage. They will work with top marine science programs to capture the trip’s findings for science. The mission hopes to provide new information about our unexplored deep ocean environments, which will help scientists better understand–and hopefully protect–the world’s marine life.
The craft is capable of diving 7 miles below the surface at a rate of 350 feet per minute, which should theoretically take the team to the Mariana Trench and back in about 5 hours.