South Sandwich Trench

Not My Recession - Sir Richard Branson launches Virgin Oceanic by Ryan

[gallery link="file" columns="4"] "Virgin Oceanic will expand the reach of human exploration on our planet. By promoting and utilising new technology Virgin Oceanic will aid human kind's ability to explore our Oceans, assist science in understanding our eco system and raise awareness of the challenges facing our Oceans."  Sir Richard Branson April 2011

Want to take a ride to the bottom of the Marianas Trench? So does Richard Branson! It seems as though the great explorer/billionaire/music mogul/balloon pilot/astronaut has been tinkering away on a reported $17million submarine that will take him to the deepest depths of the oceans. The sumbarine, designed by Graham Hawkes in partnership with Google, is slated for 5 dives in five oceans over a two year period.

Five Dives, Five Oceans, Two Years, One Epic Adventure Mariana Trench Pacific Ocean                        11,033m     36,201ft Puerto Rico Trench Atlantic Ocean                         8,605m      28,232ft Diamantina Trench             Indian Ocean                           8,047m      26,401ft South Sandwich Trench Southern Ocean 7,235m      23,737ft Molloy Deep Arctic Ocean                           5,608m      18,399ftrom

From Sir Richard Branson's partner in the venture and Virgin Oceanic's chief pilot is Chris Welsh, an American sailor, pilot and explorer: "The submarine is a unique design made from 8,000 pounds of carbon fibre and titanium. The pressure at the bottom of the deepest trench is 16,000 PSI or over 1,000 atmospheres - the quartz dome alone is under 13 million pounds of pressure, the weight of three space shuttles. No leak is tolerable; a leak would cut through stainless steel or human flesh and mean certain death. The depth is beyond the capabilities of any other craft, so rescue is impossible. It's like being on the dark side of the moon. Full pressure testing is to be carried out over the coming months and should it fail the mission will obviously have to be re-evaluated.