While the world watched China’s launch of the world’s deepest diving manned submersible, three private teams are seeking to go even deeper (via The Atlantic).
The deepest section of the ocean floor is in the Mariana Trench southeast of Guam and the deepest point in the Mariana Trench is Challenger Deep at 35,797 feet. The pressure at that depth is about eight tons per square inch — like the weight of a double-decker bus balanced on a golf ball.
Richard Branson, James Cameron and entrepreneur Bruce Jones are competing to get to Challenger Deep. While the projects are intended simply as commercial ventures to a remote location, the technology unearthed in the development may help the U.S. to keep up with Russia and China’s efforts at mining the sea-floor.
This won’t be the first time humans have been to Challenger Deep — the U.S. Navy sent their submersible the Trieste — in 1960. This time the X Prize Foundation will award $10 million to the team that gets there first — again.
Richard Branson’s Virgin Oceanic
Photo: Virgin Oceanic
Designed to resemble deep ocean going fish and mammals the sub is 8,000 pounds of carbon fibre and titanium with a quartz dome.
Seating one person the vehicle is intended to operate for up to 24 hours at a depth of 37,000 feet. Once at the bottom of Challenger Depp, the ship’s wings will allow it to “fly” back to the surface.
Dropping at a rate of 350 feet per minute, and with a cruising speed of 2.2 knots, the back and forth trip will take about five hours.
Jame’s Cameron’s Deep Challenge Team
Photo: wikipedia commons
With just rumours of some very elusive 2003 sketches, no image is available for the Titanic and Avatar director’s entry into the race.
While Cameron’s fascination with the deep is nothing new his desire to equip a state-of-the-art submersible with equally cutting edge 3D cameras, bionics, and optics is. The award winning director intends to film the Avatar sequel aboard the vessel and his vehicle has already passed the pressure tests required of its monumental descent.
Cameron’s sub has been commissioned out of Australia and word of its release is expected some time this year.
Bruce Jone’s Triton 36,000 Submarines
Photo: Triton 36,000
Named for the depths to which they will succumb, Bruce Jone’s 36,000 Triton subs are made of fibreglass, and glass only — no metal elements or hull penetrations — and seat up to three people.
Using the physical properties of glass whereby it gets stronger the greater the pressure upon it, the Triton will descend at 500 feet per minute and is protected from impact by acrylic sheets.
Jone’s is hoping to sell his subs for $15 million apiece to those wanting to charge others $250,000 for a ride to the bottom of the ocean.
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