Billionaire Richard Branson is ready to tackle a new adventure, and business venture, Virgin Oceanic. He first plans to have his submarine to dive to the deepest part of the ocean, the Mariana Trench in the western Pacific near the island of Guam in a specially designed deep sea submarine. The publicity from this stunt will then help promote Virgin Oceanic, which will build a larger submarine to take tourists to various must-see underwater locations. The Mariana Trench is some 36,000 feet in depth and was first explored in 1960 by the bathyscaphe, Trieste.
Last year, Branson moved one step closer launching to another high-adventure tourist industry, Virgin Galactic. Customers will pay nearly $200,000 for a ride in sub-orbital space using a small, reusable spacecraft launched from an altitude of some 30,000 feet from a specially built aircraft. Flight tests began last September and the first paying customers may begin their space adventure trips sometime in 2012.
Richard, himself, will not make the dive to the Mariana Trench. Explorer Chris Welch will take the first trip down in the specially built one-man submarine and dive to the bottom, about 35,797 feet down. Later, Barnson will then take his submarine and make his down dive to the Puerto Rico Trench, which is one of the deepest locations in the Atlantic Ocean, with a depth of about 27,893 feet. Other possible dives may include the South Sandwich and Diamantina Trenches, as well as the Molloy Deep in the Arctic Ocean.
How will Branson and Chris Wells makes these deep sea dives? The submarine built by Virgin Oceanic is about 18 feet long, weighs 8,000 pounds and is capable of speeds of about 10 knots, about 12 MPH to you land-lubbers. Its cruising speed will only be about 2 to 3 knots and can dive at a rate of some 350 feet per minute. Built with sufficient power and life support to operate for 24 hours underwater, the expected time to take to reach the bottom of the Mariana Trench and back is around 5 hours. Perhaps the most remarkable aspect of this submarine is its ability to withstand the enormous pressure. At the bottom of the Mariana Trench, the water pressure will be around 1,000 atmospheres, or roughly 13 Million pounds! Together with a specially designed catamaran to support the submarine, the project is costing Richard Branson about $17 Million dollars.