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British astronaut Richard Garriott set to reach bottom of Mariana Trench

Richard Garriott will traverse the depths of the Mariana Trench later this month, making him the first Briton to go into both space and the deepest part of the ocean.

The entrepreneur, 59, has already been to the North and South poles and the RMS Titanic’s wreck and will one of a select number to go to the bottom of the trench.

Some 1,580 miles long, the Mariana Trench reaches down to 6.825 miles below the ocean’s surface at its deepest point, which is known as ‘Challenger Deep’.

Ocean conditions permitting, the dive is planned for February 28. 

Mr Garriott visited the International Space Station back in 2008, travelling up with the Soyuz TMA-13 mission and returning to Earth 12 days later.

During his trip, he filmed ‘Apogee of Fear’, the first sci-fi movie completely shot in space, which was released on DVD with a documentary about his space flight.

He also smuggled into orbit laminated cards containing part of the ashes of James Doohan, the actor who portrayed engineer Montgomery ‘Scotty’ Scott in Star Trek.

More of Mr Doohan’s ashes would later be carried in space aboard a SpaceX’s Falcon 9 rocket in the May of 2012.

Astronaut Richard Garriott, pictured, is about to traverse the depths of the Mariana Trench — making him the first Briton to go into both space and the deepest part of the ocean

The explorer, 59 — who has also been to the North and South poles and the wreck of the Titanic — will be only the 14th person alive to go to the bottom of the trench. Pictured: the submersible that entrepreneur Richard Garriott will travel in to the deepest part of the ocean

The explorer, 59 — who has also been to the North and South poles and the wreck of the Titanic — will be only the 14th person alive to go to the bottom of the trench. Pictured: the submersible that entrepreneur Richard Garriott will travel in to the deepest part of the ocean

Some 1,580 miles long, the Marianas Trench reaches down to 6.825 miles below the ocean's surface at its deepest point, which is known as 'Challenger Deep'

Some 1,580 miles long, the Marianas Trench reaches down to 6.825 miles below the ocean’s surface at its deepest point, which is known as ‘Challenger Deep’

MARIANA TRENCH 

The Mariana Trench, located in the Western Pacific, is the deepest ocean trench in the world.

It is some 1,580 miles long and at its deepest point, ‘Challenger Deep’ stretches down 6.825 miles.

It is 1.2 miles deeper than Mount Everest is tall — and the bottom is pitch black. Nevertheless, flat fish, crustaceans, snailfish and giant amoebas have been found living there.

The feature formed as the Pacific Ocean plate subducts beneath the smaller Mariana plate to its West. 

The US Navy bathysphere Trieste was the first manned craft to reach the bottom of the Mariana Trench on January 23, 1960.

On board were two oceanographers — Don Walsh and Jacques Piccard.

In 2012, the Canadian filmmaker James Cameron made the fourth manned trip to the bottom of the trench, diving to a depth of 35,787 feet (10,908 metres) in his vessel Deepsea Challenger. 

‘Later this month I’m going to the deepest part of the planet and I’m very excited about it,’ Mr Garriott told the Mirror.

‘It’s going to be pretty hard to beat space. The view of the earth from space is truly life changing.’

‘There is something called the overview effect which is literally a life-changing experience most people who orbit the earth have had — and I have that too.’

‘While the view from a port-hole viewport from the submersible will only be as far as the lighting will provide you.’

‘It will be like looking at the moon but when you’re only ten feet above the surface of it just looking at the rocks and bumps and dust.’

‘It’s going to be a very different kind of experience,’ the British entrepreneur concluded. 

Mr Garriott’s deep-sea voyage will last around 12 hours in total, with the descent and return journey to the surface together taking eight hours, leaving four hours for research at the bottom of the ocean.

On his voyage into the deep, the former-astronaut has said that he intends to wear the same suit that he wore into space — one which features both the union jack and the American stars and strips on the front.

The submersible Mr Garriott will travel in was designed and built by the US company Triton at the behest of Caladan Oceanic, a firm which is undertaking a multi-million pound project to explore and study the depths of the world’s oceans.

Two Devon-based Britons, John Ramsay, 40, and Tom Blades, 37, are the principal engineers at Triton and designed the submersible.

‘This particular submersible was not just designed to take someone to the bottom of the ocean and set a world record,’ Mr Ramsay told the Mirror.

‘The idea was to make a submersible that wasn’t an experiment — this would have a legacy going on for years completing science and exploring the ocean.’

‘We had a two year build programme to make this certified full ocean depth diving two passenger submersible.’

‘It had never been done before.’

‘There is a huge amount of British involvement in this project,’ he added.

‘What I am always staggered at is how incredibly capable British people and companies are when it comes to doing something different or out of the ordinary.’

‘Working with British companies is always such a pleasure. I love it.’ 

The Mariana Trench, located in the Western Pacific, is the deepest ocean trench in the world. It is some 1,580 miles long and at its deepest point, 'Challenger Deep' stretches down 6.825 miles. Pictured, an image taken of a rover exploring some 3.7 miles down into the trench

The Mariana Trench, located in the Western Pacific, is the deepest ocean trench in the world. It is some 1,580 miles long and at its deepest point, ‘Challenger Deep’ stretches down 6.825 miles. Pictured, an image taken of a rover exploring some 3.7 miles down into the trench

In 2012, the Canadian filmmaker James Cameron made the fourth manned trip to the bottom of the trench, diving to a depth of 35,787 feet in his vessel Deepsea Challenger, as depicted

In 2012, the Canadian filmmaker James Cameron made the fourth manned trip to the bottom of the trench, diving to a depth of 35,787 feet in his vessel Deepsea Challenger, as depicted

The submersible Mr Garriott (pictured here being loaded into the ocean) will travel in was designed and built by the US company Triton at the behest of Caladan Oceanic, a firm undertaking a multi-million pound project to explore the depths of the world's oceans

The submersible Mr Garriott (pictured here being loaded into the ocean) will travel in was designed and built by the US company Triton at the behest of Caladan Oceanic, a firm undertaking a multi-million pound project to explore the depths of the world’s oceans

Mr Garriott's deep-sea voyage will last around 12 hours in total — with the descent and return journey to the surface together taking eight hours, leaving four hours for research at the bottom of the ocean. On his voyage into the deep, the former-astronaut has said that he intends to wear the same suit that he wore into space — one which features both the union jack and the American stars and strips on the front, as pictured

Mr Garriott’s deep-sea voyage will last around 12 hours in total — with the descent and return journey to the surface together taking eight hours, leaving four hours for research at the bottom of the ocean. On his voyage into the deep, the former-astronaut has said that he intends to wear the same suit that he wore into space — one which features both the union jack and the American stars and strips on the front, as pictured

‘We are hoping, indeed expecting, to bring unique microbes and fish and other species to the world which have never been seen before,’ said Mr Garriott. 

The entrepreneur said that all the data collected during the dive will be placed into the public domain. 

‘It will be a gift to the world,’ he said.

TAKING STEPHEN HAWKING ON A ZERO-GRAVITY FLIGHT 

Pictured: Stephen Hawking in zero gravity

Pictured: Stephen Hawking in zero gravity

Richard Garriott is also known for taking the famous theoretical physicist Stephen Hawking on a zero-gravity flight.

Such flights — dubbed ‘vomit comets’ — follow parabolic paths that cause them to experience free fall at various points.

‘It was an incredible experience,’ he told the Mirror.

‘Our mantra for the day was: ‘We can’t kill Stephen Hawking!’

‘He loved it, We did one parabola and that was going to be it.’

‘But he asked for one more then more then another. We ended up doing ten.’

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