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DeepFlight Challenger

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.

Updated:Caption:Photo:Virgin Oceanic
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The Five Dives

This chart showcases the goals of the Five Dives initiative.

Updated:Caption:Photo:Virgin Oceanic
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Profiles

In this image, we see profiles of the Virgin Oceanic DeepFlight Challenger.

Updated:Caption:Photo:Virgin Oceanic
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Front and back

Here we see the front and back of the DeepFlight Challenger.

Updated:Caption:Photo:Virgin Oceanic
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The top

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.

Updated:Caption:Photo:Virgin Oceanic
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Fossett's Challenger

This photo of the DeepFlight Challenger dates to when Fossett was preparing to be the first to ever dive solo to the Mariana Trench.

Updated:Caption:Photo:Hawkes Ocean Technologies
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Submersible diving

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.

Updated:Caption:Photo:Virgin Oceanic
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Front side view

A look at the DeepFlight Challenger from the front and the side.

Updated:Caption:Photo:Virgin Oceanic
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