Bay Area Company Creates Branson's Newest Toy

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    NEWSLETTERS

    AP
    Billionaire adventurer Richard Branson poses atop the Virgin Oceanic Expeditions deep sea submarine.

    A San Francisco company is helping billionaire Richard Branson go further under the sea than any other human.

    Hawkes Ocean Technologies created a part carbon, part fiber, part titanium water craft capable of diving more than six miles deep for a full 24 hours. The 18-foot submarine looks like an airplane and has room for one.

    Branson unveiled the sub this week in Newport Beach. It's part of the Virgin Oceanic expedition.

    The Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute and Moss Landing Marine Labs are also part of the project. Scientists from those organizations want to use the sub to study the tectonic plates and hopefully discover new sea creatures from the ocean depths. The images will also be uploaded to Google Earth to create new ocean floor map.

    The first ocean exploration is set for this summer.

    Hawkes Ocean Technologies is also reportedly working with Branson on a submarine capable of high-speed deep sea travel.  No price for you ticket is being given, but this is clearly something that Branson will market to the uber rich much like his SpaceShipTwo, which promises to take people to outerspace for a price.

    Cal professor Richard Reich told the Associated Press that Branson has tapped into a market of the super rich who are willing to pay anything for a new adventure.

    "Richard Branson can dig a hole to the center of the earth and charge a million dollars a day to go through it and he'd find people to take him up on the offer," Reich said.