By Bad Seed
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BY KELSEY WAANANEN
ANCHOR CHRISTINA HARTMAN
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One UK billionaire has already had his fair share of innovative ideas and now he's got another. This time - he's thinking deep. Thirty six thousand feet deep to be exact.
Virgin Group boss Richard Branson introduced Virgin Oceanic - a project that will launch a single-person submarine into the deepest places in the world’s five oceans.
After launching projects like Virgin Galactic - which will send the wealthy into space - Fortune’s Poppy Harlow asks Branson - where did this idea come from?
RB: “Well the original idea interestingly came from Steve Foster before he died. You know, he just wanted to break the record for being the first person to get, solo dive to the deepest part of the ocean.”
And Forbes is unsurprised Branson has already planned to set records with this venture.
“... Branson being Branson, it won’t be any great shock that he’s got some Guinness World Records in his sight — he’s betting he’ll set 30 of them.”
Branson, who is now 60, has sought out and set records for hot air balloon travel, crossing the English Channel in a car-boat and crossing the Atlantic in a motorboat.
That’s a lot of action for a businessman. But as for this product, TIME's Techland says - keep your opinions to yourself about Branson - the submarine is impressive.
“Whatever your opinion of Branson and his business empire, you have to admire the astonishing engineering involved in creating a sub like this.”
And The Washington Post says- the motivation for this project isn’t shallow.
“The trip will not just be pursuing a rich man’s whim to sightsee in the deep. Branson has partnered with a number of research organizations to study the tectonic plates and bring back water, microbes and possibly small creatures.”
But a director at the Monterey Bay Aquarium Institute told the LA Times that this trip isn’t that scientifically significant yet... and may never be.
“The craft ... may find its greatest value in the way it helps satisfy the human need to push limits and explore.”
But for now, BBC says-- Branson’s got money on his mind.
“And as you'd expect for Richard Branson he's thinking of the future. One day he hopes to build bigger submarines, he told me, and take paying passengers to see the wonders of the bottom of the ocean.”
And though the idea may seem futuristic, the future is now. The submarine has already been built and test runs are planned to take place this month - with the first dives taking place this year.
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Transcript by Newsy