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Branson will be exploring the deepest parts of the world's oceans in the Virgin Oceanic submarine

Day two of the Brainstorm GREEN conference yesterday revealed that Richard Branson will embark on an undersea venture where he will explore some of the deepest parts of the oceans around the world. 


The Brainstorm GREEN conference is where thought leaders and business leaders - such as Fortune 500 companies, government policymakers and environmental activists - come together for a three-day symposium in Laguna Niguel, California in order to exchange and discuss ideas.


Richard Branson is a British entrepreneur who is known for the Virgin brand. He first launched Virgin Records in 1972, which later became Virgin Megastores. The name then grew into over 400 companies, which make up the Virgin Group. Branson is also deeply interested in environmental endeavors, such as the Virgin Green Fund, which invests in companies that can compete with "dirty industries" like oil and make a profit in order to eliminate reliance on dirty fuels.


Now, at the Brainstorm GREEN conference, Branson told Fortune Managing Editor Andy Serwer that he would be exploring the deepest parts of the world's oceans in the Virgin Oceanic submarine. 


The sub, which was designed by Graham Hawkes, weighs 8,000 lbs and is made of carbon fiber and titanium. It has an operating depth of 37,000 ft and can operate for 24 hours "unaided." It was designed in such a way that it looks like it has fins and a unique flying wing so that can range the seas "in harmony with its environment." In addition, Branson notes that it is much less expensive to operate and manufacture than other subs that cannot achieve full ocean depth like the Virgin Oceanic can. 


"Virgin Oceanic will expand the reach of human exploration on our planet," said Branson. "By promoting and utilizing new technology, Virgin Oceanic will aid humankind's ability to explore our oceans, assist science in understanding our ecosystem and raise awareness of the challenges facing our oceans." 


He also noted that other submarines prior to the Virgin Oceanic could only dive 18,000 ft, while some of the deepest trenches in the world are around 36,000 ft. The Virgin Oceanic was designed to be the first sub to explore some of these areas. 


The Virgin Oceanic venture will consist of five dives in five different oceans. The crew will explore the Mariana Trench in the Pacific, the Diamantina Trench in the Indian, the South Sandwich Trench in the Southern Atlantic, the Puerto Rico Trench in the Atlantic and the Molloy Deep in the Arctic Ocean. 


"Each dive will be piloted by different commanders with Chris Welsh diving to the Mariana Trench (36,201 ft) with Sir Richard as back-up pilot, and Sir Richard piloting to the Puerto Rico Trench (28,232 ft) - the deepest trench in the Atlantic, which has never been explored before - with Chris Welsh acting as back-up," said Branson. "The Virgin Oceanic sub has the ability to 'fly' underwater for 10 km at depth on each of the five dives and to fully explore this unknown environment." 


The mission is expected to take two years.

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By kattanna on 4/6/2011 12:27:06 PM , Rating: 2
it still amazes me how the science community doesnt have their own nuclear research sub, or fleet!

something designed to go to depths and stay on station for prolonged periods of time.

they would have dedicated science stations in the sub with a variety of ROV's that could go out and explore and take samples and return them to be studied right there.

RE: seaquest
By mcnabney on 4/6/2011 1:10:25 PM , Rating: 2
The Trieste already went to the very bottom of the ocean in the 1950's.

Not to mention all of the dives (4,000!) that Alvin has accomplished in its ongoing career.

RE: seaquest
By kattanna on 4/6/2011 2:02:39 PM , Rating: 2
big big difference.

actual on site time with alvin is mere hours compared to the days it takes to get to the site via ship and for alvin to descend and ascend.

being able to linger at a site for days or weeks at a time mapping the terrain and life would be a tremendous boon for science.

we know soo little of the life to be found in the worlds oceans

RE: seaquest
By Binkt on 4/6/2011 7:39:52 PM , Rating: 2
Hear, Hear! Where's our nuclear powered research submarine?! I am sick of folks forgetting the third party in Ike's Military-Industrial- Scientific complex. After NR-1, we've got no capability whatsoever in this regard. Anyone who has lived in a foreign land would agree that the best way to learn is ... total immersion!

RE: seaquest
By JeffDM on 4/7/2011 8:19:26 AM , Rating: 3
"Military-Industrial- Scientific complex"

It's not in the phrase used by Eisenhower, so why are you inserting it as if it were? The way I see it, the science part is a minor part of of the speech.

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