Sir Richard Branson, the
The eight-foot mini-submarine is made of titanium and carbon fibre, weighs 8,000lbs and cruise for about 6.2 miles and can stay submerged without help for 24 hours. The pressure at the bottom of the deepest trench is more than 1,000 atmospheres. The sub's quartz dome alone is under 13 million pounds of pressure, the weight of three space shuttles.
The sub has an operating depth of 37,000ft (7 miles). Once fully descended, the submarine’s hydroplanes and thrusters will allow it to ‘fly’ up to 10km over the ocean floor while collecting video and data.
Sir Richard will take it in turns with US sailor and explorer Chris Welsh to pilot the submersible.
For the first dive later this year, Mr Welsh will be the chief pilot and take the craft into the Pacific's Mariana Trench, which goes down to 36,201 feet (11,033 metres).
Sir Richard is back-up pilot on this mission. He will then pilot submersible into the Atlantic's 28,232-feet deep (8,605 metres) Puerto Rico trench, which has never been explored before.
For more information, www.virginoceanic.com