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Christmas Gift Guide

DeepFlight Challenger

The Five Dives

Profiles

Front and back

The top

Fossett's Challenger

Submersible diving

Front side view

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.

Caption by / Photo by Virgin Oceanic
This chart showcases the goals of the Five Dives initiative.
Caption by / Photo by Virgin Oceanic
In this image, we see profiles of the Virgin Oceanic DeepFlight Challenger.
Caption by / Photo by Virgin Oceanic
Here we see the front and back of the DeepFlight Challenger.
Caption by / Photo by Virgin Oceanic
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.
Caption by / Photo by Virgin Oceanic
This photo of the DeepFlight Challenger dates to when Fossett was preparing to be the first to ever dive solo to the Mariana Trench.
Caption by / Photo by Hawkes Ocean Technologies
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.
Caption by / Photo by Virgin Oceanic
A look at the DeepFlight Challenger from the front and the side.
Caption by / Photo by Virgin Oceanic
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