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Thursday, April 7, 2011

Technology News: Science: Virgin Oceanic Sub Will 'Fly' to Ocean Depths

Virgin Oceanic Sub Will 'Fly' to Ocean Depths

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Virgin       Oceanic Sub Will 'Fly' to Ocean Depths

The vast reaches of space aren't humanity's only unexplored regions, and Richard Branson and a group of adventurers are looking in the opposite direction -- toward the deepest trenches in Earth's oceans. Constructed from 8,000 pounds of carbon fiber and titanium, Vigin Oceanic's submarine is the only piloted craft in existence that has "full ocean depth" capability. Branson, et al, plan to take it to its limits in a series of five deep dives.

Virgin         Oceanic Submarine
Virgin Oceanic Submarine
Space may be the final frontier in many senses of the word, but it's by no means the only one facing mankind. Targeting one of the great mysteries that still exist here on Earth, entrepreneur Sir Richard Branson on Tuesday announced his plans to begin a series of deep-sea explorations through Virgin Oceanic, a brand-new initiative.

In fact, Virgin Oceanic plans to take a solo piloted submarine to the deepest points in each of the world's five oceans in what the company says will be the first time such a feat has ever been attempted.

"Virgin Oceanic will expand the reach of human exploration on our planet," Branson said. "By promoting and utilizing new technology, Virgin Oceanic will aid humankind's ability to explore our Oceans, assist science in understanding our ecosystem, and raise awareness of the challenges facing our Oceans."

Charting New Territory

Working with leading scientific institutions and mapping technology from Google (Nasdaq: GOOG), Virgin Oceanic aims to make five dives in five oceans over the course of 2011 and 2012, using the world's only submarine capable of taking a human being to such extreme depths.

As many as 30 Guinness World Records could be set along the way.

In the Pacific Ocean, for example, sub owner and operator Chris Welsh will dive to the Mariana Trench -- the world's deepest, at 36,201 feet below the surface -- with Branson as backup pilot. Because the sub "flies like an airplane," Welsh will not only be able to reach the deepest point on Earth, but he will be able to "fly" along the bottom of the trench an additional 10 kilometers.

In the Atlantic, Branson himself will pilot to the Puerto Rico Trench, which lies 28,232 feet below the surface and has never been explored before; Welsh will act as backup on that trip.

Additional dives will take place in the Diamantina Trench in the Indian Ocean, South Sandwich Trench in the Southern Ocean and Molloy Deep in the Arctic Ocean.

Virgin Oceanic Sub Teaser Trailer HD

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'The Most Poorly Accessible Habitat on Earth'


More by Katherine Noyes

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