First space, now Branson sets his sights on voyaging to the bottom of the deepest oceans

Richard Branson has big plans to plunge to the deepest point on earth in a specially built submarine.

The Virgin Oceanic craft is built of titanium and carbon fibre, travels at up to three knots and is capable of operating at a depth of 37000ft. The single window is built of quartz as the pressure at that depth would just shatter glass.

Pilot Chris Welsh will single-hand the one-man submarine 11km to the bottom of the Mariana Trench, a point lower than Mount Everest is high.

With a diving speed of 350ft per minute, the journey there and back is expected to last five hours and will follow in the footsteps of the first people to reach the bottom point of the earth, Don Walsh and Jacques Piccard, who briefly touched down in 1960. No one has been back since.

Branson will pilot the second of Virgin Oceanic’s five missions to the deepest points on earth.