In the months since James Cameron announced his next film will be filmed on location in the Marianas Trench, the race to explore the world’s deepest point has heated up considerably with a new venture sponsored by entrepreneur and adventurer, Sir Richard Branson.
Gizomodo tells us Sir Richard Branson, Chris Welsh, and Graham Hawkes—the inventor of the Super Falcon flying submarine, have launched a new venture to soar just above the bottom of the ocean. The name of the new venture is called Virgin Oceanic. And this first “flight” into the Mariana Trench will be very much like Virgin Galactic SpaceShipOne’s first flight into space. After that, the first of Virgin Oceanic’s flying submarines will take men to the deepest points in all the five oceans of our planet.
The flying sub was designed by Graham Hawkes. Unlike Trieste, the bathyscaphe that took Piccard and Walsh to the bottom of the Mariana Trench 10,911 metres (35,797 foot) below the surface of the ocean, Virgin Oceanic’s submarine will fly for over 5 nautical miles along the trench’s bottoms. While Trieste, the first man to dive the trench, descended much like a balloon, on a straight line, Hawkes’ sub will glide its way down there, and keep exploring the bottom for quite a long time.
And like Virgin Galactic SpaceShipOne and SpaceShipTwo’s White Knights, the flying submarine will also have a mothership, a huge catamaran just named Catamaran. The 125-foot long ship is so tall that it almost matches the Statue of Liberty—its mast goes up to 126 feet vs the Lady of the Harbor’s 151 feet.
And this does not appear to be a PR stunt as the first prototype of the flying sub began ocean testing in San Francisco harbor just two months ago, and the team’s “all carbon fiber” catamaran sailed past gCaptain HQ just last week.