Friday, April 8, 2011
Now Presenting Virgin "Oceanic" (as if Virgin "Galactic" wasn't enough)
Picking up where the late uber-adventurer Steve Fossett left off, Virgin impresario Richard Branson said on Tuesday that he wants to go to the deepest spot on Earth.
In a press conference last Tuesday in Newport Beach, Calif., Branson announced his Virgin Oceanic and Five Dives initiatives, which could send a Virgin-branded deep-sea submersible with a single pilot to the deepest spots in each of the planet's five oceans.
Virgin Oceanic will use the DeepFlight Challenger, a submersible built by Hawkes Ocean Technologies of Point Richmond, Calif., for the dives.
The five dives are intended to be to the Pacific Ocean's Mariana Trench, which at 36,201 feet below the surface is the deepest spot on the planet; the Atlantic Ocean's Puerto Rico Trench at 28,232 feet underwater; the Indian Ocean's Diamantina Trench at 26,401 feet below the surface; the Southern Ocean's South Sandwich Trench, which is 23,737 feet down; and the Arctic Ocean's Molloy Deep, which bottoms out at 18,399 feet down.
The idea is that by exploring these deepest of points on Earth, Branson's new venture will be able to contribute to the science of the oceans. As Virgin Oceanic (see video below) put it in a release, the expedition "offers an unprecedented opportunity to conduct scientific research and to expand our knowledge of the unique conditions, ecosystems, and geology that exist at the bottom of the oceans."