Richard Branson, the owner of the vast Virgin empire, announced his newest effort today: Virgin Oceanic. The idea is to send a single pilot to the deepest points in each of the Earth's oceans in a deep-sea submersible known as the DeepFlight Challenger. Made by Hawkes Ocean Technologies, the craft originally belonged to uber-adventurer Steve Fossett, who died before he was able to complete the journey to the Mariana Trench, which at 36,201 feet below the surface, is the deepest spot on the planet.
Now, Branson and his partner Chris Welsh plan to spend the next two years on their so-called Five Dives initiative which, among other things, is hoped to spread the word about the urgent need for ocean research and exploration.
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The Five Dives
This chart showcases the goals of the Five Dives initiative.
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In this image, we see profiles of the Virgin Oceanic DeepFlight Challenger.
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Front and back
Here we see the front and back of the DeepFlight Challenger.
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Here, we see the top of the vessel, which can travel at speeds of up to 3 knots, and which can dive 350 feet a minute.
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This photo of the DeepFlight Challenger dates to when Fossett was preparing to be the first to ever dive solo to the Mariana Trench.
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The DeepFlight Challenger is a state-of-the-art deep-sea submersible capable of going farther below the surface than any other craft on the planet.
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Front side view
A look at the DeepFlight Challenger from the front and the side.