|Richard Branson exploring the ocean frontier ... / Virgin Oceanic|
He is better known for conquering the skies and is even planning to go to infinity and beyond with his ambitious space tourism programme. But now Sir Richard Branson has turned his attention to that other great undiscovered world, the depths of the ocean.
The Virgin founder and all-round adventurer has unveiled his latest challenge, to explore the deepest points in each of the world's five oceans in a single-seated submarine, called Virgin Oceanic.
We got the ultimate mothership for Sir Richard Bransons ocean explorer...
|Los Angeles Times - Virgin Oceanic|
With spaceships and airplanes under his belt, Richard Branson turns to submarines
The billionaire adventurer and Newport Beach real estate investor Chris Welsh unveil a one-person submarine to explore oceans' deepest reaches.
April 06, 2011 | By Mike Reicher and Kurt Streeter, Los Angeles Times
One of them owns a twin-engine airplane and a helicopter. The other? A fleet of spaceships.
Richard Branson, the billionaire adventurer, and Newport Beach real estate investor Chris Welsh unveiled a one-person submarine Tuesday that they said will be used to explore the deepest reaches of the world's oceans.
|(Reuters) - Virgin Group founder Richard Branson, known for such exploits as trying to balloon around the world, said on Tuesday he planned to explore the deepest parts of the world's oceans with a jet-like submarine.
The 18-foot (5-1/2 meter) vessel is capable of descents of more than 36,000 feet (11,000 meters) below the surface, said Branson at a news conference in Newport Beach, California.
His project, called Virgin Oceanic, will undertake five dives over two years. The first is set for later this year, when the team plans to explore the Pacific Ocean's Mariana Trench at a depth near 36,000 feet.
Branson plans to pilot a second dive himself, into the Puerto Rico Trench in the Atlantic Ocean.
Other areas to be explored are the Molloy Deep in the Arctic Ocean, South Sandwich Trench in the Southern Ocean and Diamantina in the Indian Ocean.
"There is just so much to explore, so much to discover," Branson told reporters. "We are going to obviously come across some fascinating creatures and learn some fascinating things that will hopefully be useful for mankind."
Branson said he expects the project to cost less than $10 million.
Branson said Virgin Oceanic could one day take passengers on deep sea dives, just as his Virgin Galactic project may one day take wealthy passengers on suborbital spaceflights.
Branson launched the Virgin chain of record stores in the 1970s, and his business holdings have grown to include a music recording label and Virgin Atlantic Airlines VA.UL.
He has used his fortune to fund such efforts as trying to circumnavigate the globe in a balloon and set sailing records.
Last month, a suborbital spaceship owned by Branson's Virgin Galactic was attached to a carrier aircraft on a three-hour flight over California's Mojave Desert.
Its test flights are scheduled through 2011 with commercial operations targeted for 2012.
The company has collected deposits and fares from more than 330 aspiring amateur astronauts, who will each be charged $200,000 to experience suborbital spaceflight. (Reporting by Alex Dobuzinskis, editing by Ellen Wulfhorst and Todd Eastham) Reuters
|Billionaire Sir Richard Branson may already own an airline, a record label, a mobile phone company, several luxury restaurants and a Caribbean island. But today the entrepreneur unveiled his latest toy - an underwater plane.
The £415,000 prototype submersible is called the Necker Nymph and can dive to depths of up to 130ft. Sir Richard hopes to one day explore depths of 35,000ft - which is far more than the height of Mount Everest.
Sir Richard plans to lend the Nymph out to visitors of his luxury hideaway, Necker Island. Gliding like an aeroplane through the water it can carry a pilot and two visitors on a two-hour trip.
After undergoing scuba training, guests can uncover ancient shipwrecks, fly side-by-side with dolphins or follow whales.
Such a unique experience comes at a price of course. The Nymph is available to hire for $25,000 a week (£15,000), but only after you have forked out a minimum of $88,000 (£55,000) for seven nights on the luxury catamaran, the Necker Belle.
The luxury sub has fighter jet technology and is piloted with a joystick. While most subs use ballast to propel subs under the water, the Nymph uses downward 'lift' on the wings to fly down.
It was designed and built by Graham Hawkes, chief of Hawkes Ocean Technologies and is the first of its kind.
Marketing manager Karen Hawkes, said: 'The Nymph is an entirely new class of vehicle for us - think of a sleek convertible under water. It is different from our other submersibles because it was specifically designed to dive to scuba depths in tropical waters.
'It has the flexibility to glide peacefully over glorious reefs or bank adventurously in 360 degree turns.'
She described the sub, which is part of its Deep Flight range, as 'hydrobatic' with individual 'wind shields' that removes the pressure of slipstream. This means the sub can have an open cockpit that gives guests panoramic views.
Ms Hawkes also insisted that the sub had a low environmental impact.
'Its positive buoyancy prevents the sub from landing on a reef, and its low light and noise emissions ensure the fragile ocean ecosystems remain undisturbed.'
Sir Richard is expecting the sub to be delivered on February 20. So those readers who have a spare £70,000 may jump at this adventurous week's holiday. The rest of us can just dream...
Virgin believes that the Oceans offer exciting possibilities for human exploration and scientific research. Our vision through Virgin Oceanic is to explore the possibilities of enabling adventurers and pioneers to participate in oceanic exploration.
Fantastic new technologies and materials harnessed by the world’s foremost submarine designer, Graham Hawkes (with Hawkes Ocean Technologies), make it possible to push the boundaries of human experience. The two greatest challenges to human exploration of the deep oceans are pressures of over 1,000 atmospheres (approximately the equivalent of 8000 elephants standing on a Mini-Cooper) and the extreme cold (just slightly above freezing). Not only is this submersible capable of withstanding both of these extremes, but its built-in cost efficiencies make extensive deep water “flights” much more accessible, bringing science and wonder ever closer, which is what Virgin Oceanic is all about.
|But why send people instead of robots to the bottom of the oceans? As Stephen Hawking said:
Humans are an adventurous species. We like to explore and are inspired by journeys to the unknown. Science is not only a disciple of reason but, also, one of romance and passion. Exploration by real people inspires us.
Imagine if you could pilot a submarine anywhere in the ocean – crushing pressures and freezing temperatures no longer an obstacle to your journey. Where would you go? What would you hope to see? The possibilities are infinite…
|The Atlantica expeditions|
The Atlantica Expeditions will teach the methods that will allow us and other humans to continuously and comprehensively diagnose our vast planetary ocean's health using the intelligent eyes of scientists and engineers wielding the most advanced 21st century scientific tools on earth. Until now, we have been blind to nearly three quarters of our planet's largest and most important biome. But now we will see...
There is a whole kingdom that lies uninhabited just beneath us.
While we live crowded and struggling on a mere 59 million square miles of dry land, this new territory of certain promise spreads out before our very eyes and unfolds to encompass an astonishing 138 million cubic miles of habitable space! I am speaking of the oceans - whose human population is now and has always been - zero. While there are a few military men beneath the waves in submarines, they have no seafloor base to call home and they are always moving and temporary visitors without even a window from which to peer out.
We're speaking of a human undersea city.
...a permanent dwelling place for people and even families. Today it is but fantasy, as it has always been. But no more. As of today, the dream of permanently settling the undersea regions of our earth has taken wings.This is the site of the Atlantica I and II Expeditions that will establish the first human undersea colony. We do not intent to establish a base or an outpost, but a human colony whose primary purpose it is to monitor and protect this most essential of all the Earth's biomes. Soon, beneath the sea, families will live and work. Children will go to school. A new generation of children will be born there -The first citizens of a new ocean civilization whose most important purpose will be to continuously monitor and protect the global ocean environment.
To make this happen, we have assembled the most remarkable and talented team of aquanaut explorers, scientists and engineers ever gathered in history. Our team has more certified aquanauts with more logged underwater time than any other ever brought together. Our team holds an incredible slate of undersea world records in diving, duration and depth. On our team are habitat designers, submarine systems engineers and world class diving experts. If there is any team on earth that can make this happen, it is ours.
Three Aquanauts – Dennis Chamberland, Claudia Chamberland and Art Ortolani, will submerge in the Leviathan Habitat and set a new world’s record for uninterrupted stay beneath the surface shattering the previous record of 69 days set by Aquanaut Rick Presley. Rotating in five day visits, 24 other aquanauts will rotate through the Leviathan including scientists, teachers, journalists and even Aquanaut Rick Presley! Then in 2015 or before, the Challenger Station habitat – the largest manned undersea habitat ever built, will be launched off the Florida coast and establish the first permanent undersea human colony. Our efforts do not represent an underwater hotel, not an outpost or a way-station, not a laboratory. We are a human community. We are the first humans who will move there and stay with no intention of ever calling dry land our home again. We represent the first generation of a people who will live out their lives beneath the sea. Like the three prongs of Poseidon’s Trident, we enter the oceans as permanent residents to enable our three linked prime objectives: the carving our of a permanent human niche - so that – we can intelligently monitor and protect the ocean environment – so that – we can teach our children through our educational programs that the oceans of the earth are the essential life blood and must be understood, protected and preserved as a primary human activity. All three of these primary objectives are so linked that they are inseparable. We literally cannot accomplish the one without the other. We do not dare to dominate, we do not dare to intrude, but we set out to witness, to record and find ways to defend, shield and protect. In so doing, to teach the next generation that we are caretakers and protectors – not miners, not owners and not rulers. The age of a new kind of human civilization has dawned. With the Atlantica Expeditions, the ocean will form the frontier of the aquatic human whose new colonies will seed a new empire of human dominion of the earth.
The good thing about opening up a frontier that is many times the size of the relatively tiny land masses is that the need for talent and enthusiasm is limitless. Whatever you do and whatever your talent - Aquatica could certianly use your expertise. There are many ways you can become a part of this historic undertaking.
|.Graham Hawkes - deepflight.com|
Graham Hawkes had an idea – to develop a disruptive technology that would break the depth barrier once and for all, and open the two-thirds of our planet covered by water for exploration. He discussed the concept with Steve Fossett, and in 2005, Fossett contracted Hawkes and Hawkes Ocean Technologies to build a record‐setting ,experimental submersible. Fossett’s goal was to carry out the deepest solo dive, 37,000 feet, to the bottom of the Mariana Trench, (the “Challenger Deep”). Steve named the craft “Challenger” after the Challenger Deep and also in recognition of the HMS Challenger expedition of the 1870’s.
Over the last forty years, Graham Hawkes has designed and built over sixty manned vehicles used for ocean science and industry. For the last twenty years, Hawkes has revolutionized deep sea access by transitioning to underwater flight and creating safe, lightweight microsubmersibles. With the Deep Flight submersibles, Hawkes has arrived at the lowest cost and most environmentally sound solution for manned, deep ocean exploration.
Deep Flight Challenger, a one-person, high-performance experimental prototype submersible, is based on Hawkes’ patented concept of underwater flight and two previous generations of Deep Flight winged craft. Deep Flight Challenger, which weighs 8000 pounds, a fraction of the weight of conventional submersibles and has approximately ten times the range, utilizes hydrodynamic force to propel the craft down. It is currently the only submersible in the world capable of diving to 36,000 feet.
The Future of Manned Access to the Deep Ocean
Submitted to the Charles A. and Anne Morrow Lindbergh Foundation
Access to the deep ocean was first achieved in the era of the Bathyscaths of the 1950's. These first cumbersome craft were quickly made obsolete by the next generation of relatively smaller, more sophisticated craft, the "classic submersible" — the best known example of which is the twenty-five year old Alvin. Alvin is still performing strongly in the U.S. for science; yet it is clear that no more of this class of submersible will be built.
Government and research institutions are now beginning to piggyback on industry's lead in ocean access which was developed for offshore oil and gas. However, industry has its own specific requirements: a set of pre-defined work tasks suitable for robotics, rather than the more celebrial needs of science and exploration. Industry values manned access primarily for the dexterity (rather than the minds) of divers who have been taken to the practical limit at about one thousand feet. Beyond those depths, industry relies solely on the Remotely Operated Vehicles (ROV), having abandoned the classic manned submersible long ago. Hence, while submersibles have continued to be valued for science, they will not be continued (in their present form) by industry, and so as Alvin (and other subs of its type) age, the manned option may be lost. Note: Japan's Shinkai 2000, the latest and possibly the last conventional technology deep submersible to be built, reportedly costs $300,000/ day to operate. In contrast, Oceaneering Inc. will lease its Magellan deep tethered ROV for $15,000/day.
Simply stated, the economy of Remote Operated Vehicles (ROV) is threatening to end direct human access to the deep sea. With that, the balance, perspective and choices (that come from having the advantages of both manned and machine access) will end unless a new class of manned vehicles can be developed to further the advantages of its type and is able to complement the ROV on a competitive economic basis.
The pros and cons of manned vs. unmanned vehicles need to be debated to a conclusion only if there has to be an exclusionary choice. There will always be a preference by some for the freedom of movement and the qualities of direct human intervention uniquely afforded by manned craft. However, those interests (outside of Japan) do not have the resources to justify the costs of progressing conventional technology and maintaining a manned option. Hence, the future of manned craft depends solely on its economics and whether it can evolve quickly enough to remain competitive with the costs of remotely operated options.
The premise of the experimental manned submersible Deep Flight 1 program, started in 1988, was that the next generation of manned craft could be dramatically more cost effective, competitive and complimentary to the ROV, otherwise there would be no future for manned craft. To this end, the principle challenge was to transition to much smaller, lighter craft which, by virtue of their small size, would eliminate the need for a dedicated mother ship. Not only is the mother ship the principle cost driver, but its logistical constraints are wholly unacceptable to industry who have fixed needs of where and when access is needed. The logistical constraints imposed by a mother ship have been made to work for science only by constraining science to the planned path (cruise schedule published three years in advance) of the mother ship.
Since the steps to be taken were too big for the incremental, evolutionary advances possible between craft built for service, Deep Flight I was to serve in the same manner as the aviation industry had learned to used experimental aircraft - i.e. to make the large conceptual advances that would otherwise not be made. DFI was designed to demonstrate the feasibility of the following key concepts:
A transition to individual pressure suits or pods. This is necessary to reduce the weight of the craft from a conventional 48,000 lbs to about 12,000 lbs (for the largest version, a 2 person work craft) so that the micro subs could utilize the many suitable oceanographic and industry ships available.
DF1 has been a private effort aided on its way by extraordinary assistance from many, not the least of whom is Dr. Sylvia Earle. We also had an early grant from the Lindbergh Foundation and funding of TV New Zealand, IMAX, National Geographic, and a private ocean exploration company Deep Sea Discoveries. In addition, the project was greatly aided by the help and enthusiasm of a group of volunteers and a host of product sponsors.
The passage of eight years has brought significant advances in several enabling technologies (outlined below) that have made the design of the proposed work craft, Deep flight 2, feasible.
Ceramic pressure hull material development by NRAD (Navy R & D labs San Diego) has brought light-weight full depth structures to the brink of utility.
Then there are a number of smaller but significant contributions for example:
TiNi Alloy Inc. has harnessed the remarkable properties of shape change alloys into miniature structural release mechanisms that make it practical to release any external appendage that may be at risk from entanglement.
The sum of these advances, together with the elimination of negative buoyancy, makes a significant advance in the safety and utility and user-friendliness of this design.
The most significant engineering challenge remains the pressure hull design for full ocean depth. The work done by NRAD has established the utility of buoyant cylindrical pressure hulls (ceramic materials) for full depth, However, these are still experimental and need further work to establish certification parameters for human occupancy. A summary of the current state of the art is that certified hulls for DF2 are readily available for depths to 6,500 ft with simple, friendly acrylic view dome, or for a depth of about 20,000 feet operation with (a change out) titanium hull and dome using conventional view ports. Additionally, a lightweight full-depth ceramic hull is feasible in an experimental form.
Depth Adaption: By designing all other systems (except buoyancy) for full ocean depth and maintaining the pressure hulls and buoyancy systems as readily interchangeable components, DF2S can be built immediately and put into service with depth ratings of 6,500 / 20,000 ft. As with the transformer solution (to avoid compromises), this avoids compromising shallow operations. Therefore, DF2 is immediately classifiable and competitive in the 0-6000 ft depth range and in the 6,000 to 20,000 depth range and experimentally able to reach for full depth.
The operational goal to reach full depth, known as the "Ocean Everest" program, would then simply use the DF2 craft as a test bed, with the craft temporarily operating in an experimental capacity and depth adapted with ceramic pods, buoyancy etc. Once full depth is achieved, the longer term goal of producing a certified version could be reviewed and, if feasible, undertaken. Hence in the future, the DF2 S equipped with better batteries and certified ceramic hulls to full ocean depth would have the same lightweight, performance and user-friendliness of the first stage 6,500 ft rated, but would eliminate depth as an issue forever such that even the Mariana Trench would be no more than 60 minutes away. The potential of the craft is such that the exotic thermally active earth-encircling ring of mid-ocean ridges would be but a routine 30 minute dive for a group of say three independent DF2 subs diving as a group: one full work rig (mode 3) with a professional pilot and science observer (also acting as safety craft) and two mode 1 craft operated by a geologist and biologist.
The critical test of DF2 lies in its economics; the costs for a single unit (mode1, 20,000 ft ) are projected to be about $1.5 million. This low cost factor means that DF2 (mode 1 and better batteries) is potentially able to explore a mid-ocean ridge, or survey a pipeline, with the qualities of a human mind in situ and able to investigate anomalies in real time, at a rate of 100 miles per day (two 8 hour dives at 8 knots) for a craft lease of about $5,000 per day ($50 per mile + ship ) deployed from a vessel of opportunity. This is a performance, and cost potential that no other system can approach. The lease cost of the three units used in the example above would be about $20,000 /day.
The goals of the DF1 program will be fulfilled with acceptance from the science / exploration community that a viable manned option exists for the future. DF2 S goes further, bringing that future within reach, and would clearly play a significant role in opening an essentially unexplored and unknown part of the planet. The concern for creating a balance between technology and nature is never more relevant than with the introduction of new tools (such as these micro submersibles) with potential to access and understand the planet (if used wisely) or add to the problems if used thoughtlessly for exploitation. The DF and Ocean Everest projects remain solidly committed to the principles of thoughtful exploration and preservation.
|James Cameron submarine|
Filmmaker James Cameron seems to have two passions in his life -- making films and exploring the depths of the ocean. He merged those two loves back in 2005, when he directed a documentary entitled 'Aliens of the Deep,' but he's set to take things to another level with his plans for 'Avatar 2.'
Cameron has commissioned a team of Australian engineers to design and build a submersible vessel capable of taking him to the floor of the Challenger Deep -- the deepest location on Earth. To put that in perspective, the location Cameron wants to get to -- and film in 3D at -- is almost 36,000 feet deep. That's nearly a mile deeper than Mount Everest is tall.
There are many challenges to pulling this off, however. Pressure at that depth is more than eight tonnes per square inch ... even the best Russian Military subs can only withstand a paltry 1,600 lbs per square inch. To get to the deepest point on the planet, Cameron will utilize a state of the art personal submarine far different than the Trieste -- the first manned vehicle to explore the same area of the ocean floor. The modern sub will look like something straight out of a science-fiction film -- complete with a huge resin bubble for viewing the outside world and motors that will power it along in the stillness of the deep.
|Euronaut Carsten Standfuss|
The sub will be used for wreckdiving, a diving depth of 250m is aimed for. Inside the sub itself will be a pressure chamber with diver exit hatch, so divers can act longer times in high depth, which wouldn't be possible with usual diving equipment. For movement a diesel-electric engine with 190 bhp is used, which makes the sub capable of reaching a speed of 8 knots. Oxygen and food supply allows the crew to operate the sub for 7 days without surfacing. In the subchapters the structure of the sub can be seen more detailed.
We want to be able to get out of the sub in high depth to photograph and measure wrecks. With usual diving equipment you are very limited down there.
Is a lung in 1 bar environmental pressure being filled with five liters of air, this amount increases in 100 metres depth and 11 bar to: 11 x 5 liters = 55 liters of gas volume. In 250 m then 130 liter per breath. A 10 liter bottle contains 10 liter x 22 bar = 2200 liter, useable in depth are about 2000 liter. That divided by the 130 liter per breath results in just 15 breaths. Converted to a portable 2x15 liter bottle combination the result is 45 breaths. This calculation is just an example and very simplified, but it shows, that you won't get along well in high depth with usual diving equipment.
The solution are closed rebreathers. Here the gas is being breathed in a circle and only the used oxygen has to be replaced. The operating time for those devices is several hours, and that mostly depth independent. Furthermore you are being kept warm, as you are breathing your own, warm exhalation gas.
So we began to deal with "rebreathers", old military equipment but then we looked for an own solution. This solution is named EXIVE in the meantime and is a rebreather with fully integrated backup cycle. 6-8 hours diving in nearly any depth and a fully qualified backup cycle ensure safe diving.
|By 1870 science fiction novelist Jules Verne wrote a fantastic story about the mysterious Captain Nemo and his submarine "Nautilus". Nemo was an individual seeking freedom and independence in the depths of the oceans. He had constructed Nautilus with his faithful friends on a secret shipyard situated on the island of "Vulcania".
This idea was far ahead of its time, but not impossible.
The novel inspired inventers, scientist and shipbuilders, and by the time of World War One the submarine had matured into the deadly and effective navel weapon it still is today in the nuclear age.
Until now - after more than one hundred years with the technology available - no individual or non government group have ever turned Verne's original idea into reality. The peaceful - civilian, live onboard research submarine. However now in the Capital of Denmark - on an abandoned old shipyard, on an almost secret island - a small group of individuals are about to launch their dream.
The purpose of the project has been recreational only - there are no investors or commercial intentions behind. This submarine, no matter how exceptional or mystic - is simply a DIY recreational leisure vessel with some extra features.
The Nautilus has been build by some 25 persons, ranging from Maria who spend some days doing paintwork to Peter Blazewicz or who has spend many long hours modeling a 3D computer drawing of the boat. After its launch the boat will be used by these people, their friends and relatives for expeditions that may take them just about anywhere in the world. The plan is to make a Mediterranean voyage as soon as the trail and shake down phase is complete. Its is possible to join the Nautilus submariners by applying for membership of the Freya submarine society.
Contact: The Nautilus Radio room can be contacted by cell phone at +45 50523031 or by mail firstname.lastname@example.org.
|The World - Residences at Sea|
Since our launch in 2002, The World has continuously circumnavigated the globe, spending extensive time in the most exotic and well-traveled ports, allowing us - the Residents - to wake up in a new destination every few days, exploring with depth we had never before thought possible. It's a lifestyle we are truly grateful to live each day.
At 644 feet, The World is the largest privately owned yacht on the planet. Each of us owns one or more of the 165 private onboard Residences, and collectively, we own the ship, ensuring that our experiences - both onboard and off - are far beyond current luxury travel standards.
But what we share with one another goes far beyond ownership. Each of us has an endless thirst for knowledge, adventure and of course, travel.
This thirst is not only satisfied by our itineraries, which each of us has a voice in creating each year, but by our special, in-depth expeditions and unique Enrichment Program. The Program brings onboard experts in all different fields - diving, wine tasting, world cultures - to prepare us for each port we visit, and beyond.
As time passes, neighbors become travel companions and travel companions become good friends. We offer one another new ways to experience the many destinations we sail to. But above all, we offer each other comfort, good company, and lots of laughter.
|Submarine Yachting how does it work ? Live Aboard Submarine Yacht Forum|
Submarine Yachting how does it work ?...
It may be one out of hundred who really would like to live disconnected from the surface, producing
from the seawater wandering submerged and separated from mankind trough the worlds oceans, "Captain Nemo style".
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