How It Works

The Virgin Oceanic

Virgin Oceanic plans to launch an even more ambitious craft into the Mariana Trench. It too will be a one-man submersible but made of 3,630 kilograms (over 8,000 pounds) of carbon fibre and titanium. It’s supported from the surface by the Virgin Oceanic Super Catamaran, adapted from Steven Fossett’s racing catamaran, the Cheyenne. Virgin Oceanic’s version is a gigantic 38.1 metres (125 feet) long and 48.7 metres (160 feet) to the tip of its mast. It can lower the sub into the water through a hole in the deck of one hull, while the other hull serves as a galley for the 12-man crew.
The sub is designed to incorporate hydroplanes (aquatic wings) that will allow it to move across up to ten kilometres (6.2 miles) of ocean floor, with a large quartz viewing dome capable of withstanding nearly 6 million kilograms (13 million pounds) of pressure. On its own dive into the Mariana Trench later in 2012, this vessel will be piloted by someone equally as famous as James Cameron: Sir Richard Branson.