Richard Branson’s Virgin Oceanic

Sir Richard Branson, ever since he launched Virgin Records in the 70s, has been pursuing ever more ambitious business ventures. He took air travel by storm with Virgin Atlantic and Virgin America, and now plans to explore the oceans.

His new venture, Virgin Oceanic, is building a single-pilot submersible that can reach the deepest points of the world’s oceans as well as documenting the ecosystem along the way. The first dive will be in the Mariana Trench in the Pacific Ocean. It’s about 11 kilometers (7 miles) deep. Furthermore, it’s over 800 atmospheres of pressure, so this sub is going to be very tough in order to handle the depths.

Virgin Oceanic submersible

Although Branson had broven himself as an intrepid adventurer with his ballooning feats, he won’t be piloting this first mission. Chris Welsh will be piloting it instead, with Branson planning to take charge of the second mission to explore the Puerto Rico Trench.

The design of the sub fits in great with Virgin’s other stylish vehicle designs, like the paint schemes for the airlines and the sleek look of Virgin Galactic’s spacecraft. It’s made of tough composite materials that should withstand the extreme pressures of the deep ocean. The sub features a wing design that should allow it to “fly” through the ocean with the same ease as an airplane moves through the sky. The design was originally commissioned by Branson’s close friend, the late adventurer Steve Fosset.

The sub can cruise at 3 knots and dive at a rate of 350 feet per minute.

If you like this, you’ll also enjoy our article on the FLIP research vehicle that can dive vertically and the water-powered jetpack.

Via: The Cool Gadgets