Branson sinks sub dream: Plan to explore Earth's bottom scrapped

Deep-sea tourism craft won't be happening after all

The components of the Deep Flight Challenger. Image: Deep Flight

Virgin boss Sir Richard Branson has halted plans to build submarines for deep-sea tourism.

The Telegraph confirmed what Branson himself hinted at months ago: that the beardy Brit billionaire will has put on hold the Virgin Oceanic project.

Branson had planned to construct a craft that would undertake a series of five dives to the deepest points of the world's oceans, including the Pacific's Mariana Trench. Branson himself was slated to head down on at least one of the dives.

However, the planned craft never quite came about, and back in August Sir Richard gave hints that the project, at least in its current form, was in serious jeopardy.

"We are all still highly passionate about exploring the bottom of the ocean," he said.

"However, we are now widening the focus of the project and looking for new technology to help us explore the ocean and democratise access at reduced cost and increased safety."

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Those statements were made just weeks before Virgin Galactic suffered a fatal crash. During a test flight, the craft suffered a catastrophic failure leading to its break-up and the death of one of the two pilots.

The incident has put a hold on Virgin Galactic's plans to bring about space tourism. ®

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