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You Asked, Sir Richard Branson Answered! Part 2

February 13th, 2012

Recently, we posted Part 1 of billionaire-adventurer-businessman Sir Richard Branson taking YOUR (HTE children readers!) questions about just one of his ambitious projects … to embark on the five deepest submarine ocean dives in history with his Virgin Oceanic team.

And what a success Part 1 was! In addition to Sir Richard Branson treating your questions with respect and giving great answers, comments poured in from all over about how great your questions were — how smart they were, how honest they were, how interesting they were, how thoughtful they were! Great job and congratulations to you! To see Part 1, click here . To read HTE’s original post on his submarine div e, click here.

Here is Part 2 — the final ten questions and answers — of our very special exchange with Sir Richard Branson. You can also read it on Richard Branson’s blog by clicking here .

11. Can kids be Ocean Elders? Mrs. Hanson’s 3rd grade class

They can certainly join our community! Everyone is invited to go to and post and vote on their favorite ocean conservation ideas. I hope you will join us!

12. Will kids be able to go into space and will your trips offer space walks? Mrs. Hanson’s 3rd grade class

My dream is to open up the wonder of spaceflight to all- including kids! It may take awhile to get the regulations to allow it, but we will get there. Our sub-orbital flights will not have the option of space walks, but in the future when we are taking people into orbit around the Earth, we certainly hope to offer space walks. I am hoping to get to do one myself!

13. What was it like to be a child and have trouble with reading because I have the same problem? Also, I like your amphibious vehicle, does it have a roof? Emma, age 8

At the age of eight I still couldn’t read. I was soon being beaten once or twice a week for doing poor class work or confusing the date of the Battle of Hastings. One of the positive things about being dyslexic is that we look at things differently. We simplify things, we can see things more clearly. This is what’s helped me in business.

As for the amphibious vehicle that crossed the English Channel in, it does not have a roof but does have a sort of bimini top (like a canopy) that you can use while out to protect you from the sun. But not having a roof is not nearly as unusual as not having any doors!

14. Which creatures do you expect to find in the deep ocean? Will you able to take photos and video? If so, I can’t wait to see them! Sammie, no age given

I expect to encounter a number of different animals from sea spiders, to jellyfish, to squid and shrimp type things, and fish, but the deeper we go the less anyone will have seen these things at those depths before. Very little of the full volume of the ocean has been explored so there is still a lot we do not know. A bunch of new exotic deep sea creatures were discovered last year and I expect we will keep discovering more and more as long as we keep looking. Our plan is to take video and photos of everything so that we can bring it back to scientists to study and for people like you to enjoy!

15. How are you going to navigate the rocks that you’ll encounter? Ms. Montalvo’s 3rd grade class

We plan to have a sonar system to scan the water column ahead for rocks and other obstacles, it works a bit like a bat’s sonar sending out sound signals to see if the device can detect them bouncing off a rock or something else in your path. Hopefully that will be enough to keep me from getting closer than I want to into a rock face.

16. How much food are you going to pack … and what if you run out? Ms. Montalvo’s 3rd grade class, and Mrs. C’s 2nd grade class

I haven’t decided yet. It is about a 7-hour mission, so I could do it without food it I needed to. But it probably makes sense to take some along, maybe some energy bars or something. If I run out then I will probably just be extra hungry when I get back on board the mother ship.

17. How are you going to see underwater, we watched your video but is it going to be like that? Mrs. C’s 2nd grade class

The front of the sub has a great big window and the there are a number of headlights and wing lights that will help light up the scene ahead (the ocean gets very dark very fast). The video makes it seem light enough at the sea bottom to see the rocks, but in reality if we are not shining our flashlight directly on it, we will not be able to see it. It is pitch black down there.

18. How long do you plan to stay when you get down to the bottom? Mrs. C’s 2nd grade class

About 2 hours. It is 2.5 hours to get down, 2 hours flying along the bottom and 2.5 hours ascending to the surface again.

19. How do you practice withstanding that much pressure from the water as you go deeper? anonymous

Luckily I don’t have to! Since I will be on the inside of the pressure hull, the pressure inside the vehicle will stay the same as at sea level (which is 14 lbs per square inch- basically the weight of all the air and water vapor above your head all the way up into the vacuum of space). The Carbon Fiber hull however will have to withstand 16,000 lbs per square inch (that is like having the weight of an elephant balance on one square inch of your head). The 16,000 lbs of pressure comes from the weight of nearly 11 km of water pressing down on the submarine (think about how much just 1 liter of water weighs…).

20. Do you want to or plan to follow the sperm whales around down there since they live so deep and there’s not many of them left? Lois, age 5

We have talked about that being one of the coolest things we could do with the submarine. Now let’s just hope we find a sperm whale just about to dive so we can try it out!


Engineering work is currently being done on the submarine so that it can go through major testing in the Spring, Virgin Oceanic tells HTE. If all goes well, the first dive could be this summer! The first and deepest dive to the Mariana Trench will be performed by Chief Pilot Chris Welsh. Richard Branson will be piloting the sub on the second dive, to the Atlantic Ocean’s Puerto Rico trench. No one’s ever been down there. Good luck Sir Richard Branson and Virgin Oceanic! We can’t wait to see how it goes and what you find!

March 27, 2012 — Here is a lovely poem written by 12-year old Chinny from the UK for Sir Richard Branson about Virgin Galactic. She sent it to HTE to forward to Richard Branson … and he posted it on his site !

Here’s Chinny’s poem:

I believe I can fly, I know I can touch the sky

Soaring through space, floating around with grace

Virgin Galactic is everything you could wish for

Jump in let’s be sure to take a tour

Across the moon and the stars and back to your house door

What a beautiful fantasy, it doesn’t take a man to see

These beautiful images come alive, it seems like a dream to me

Not just a rocket, not something you could stick in your pocket

But fascinating, picturesque memories

Better than sweet melodies

What a sweet memory I’ll always be sure to remember

what an out of space experience!

Congrats, Chinny!

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