Virgin Oceanic: Just the Latest in Richard Branson’s Massive Ventures

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Orbital Space Flight on Virgin Galactic

He’s conquered the skies, and now he plans to conquer the seas. (via Techland)

In fact, there’s not much that Virgin Group founder Sir Richard Branson hasn’t done. So when he announced Tuesday that he plans to explore the deepest depths of the ocean, it did not come as much of a surprise. Knighted in 1999 for his contribution to commerce and listed by Forbes as the 212th richest person in the world in 2010, this high-school dropout has accrued quite the résumé. Here are some of Virgin Group’s and his own most notable ventures.

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Virgin Records: After acquiring a storefront in 1971, Virgin Records launched its first label in 1973 and gained fame as it signed various record groups throughout the decade. In the 1980s, Virgin Group brought the record company to America. Though they no longer own Virgin Records, the name remains the same.

Virgin Atlantic: In 1984, Virgin Group introduced Virgin Atlantic, which today is one of the most popular British airlines.

More Virgin Brands Born: Throughout the early 90s, Virgin Group continued dominating the lifestyle business with Virgin Books, Virgin Radio, Virgin Cinema, Virgin Mobile and Virgin Active (a health club network).

Atlantic Speed: In an effort to truly dominate the Atlantic, Branson attempted to break the world record for fastest crossing of the Atlantic a powerboat. Piloting his 72-foot Virgin Atlantic Challenger, he completed the journey in three days and was more than two hours faster than the previous record holder.

Across the Seas in Several Days: In the late 80s and early 90s, Branson made several hot air balloon world record attempts. He did set a few for crossing the Atlantic and Pacific, and now turns his attention to his travel company, Virgin Balloon Flights.

Amphibious Car: Versatile in so many forms of transportation, Branson decided to combine a couple. In 2004 he crossed the English Channel by car-boat and did so in a record-setting time of just under 2 hours.

Branson Reaches Out: In 2007, Branson and musician Peter Gabriel approached Nelson Mandela with a plan to form a group that would “help resolve global problems and ease global suffering.” With Mandela’s support, the Global Elders was born.

Virgin Earth Challenge: Perhaps feeling guilty about his fossil fuel-burning planes, Branson instituted the Virgin Earth Challenge in 2007. This project offers $25 million to the entry that could “demonstrate to the judges’ satisfaction a commercially viable design which results in the net removal of anthropogenic, atmospheric greenhouse gases so as to contribute materially to the stability of the Earth’s climate system.”

Rocket-Powered: Not one to stay grounded, Branson continues to develop his cosmic company, Virgin Galactic, which is the world’s first commercial space company. For $200,000, Branson offers the public the chance to break out of the world’s atmosphere and travel to space. He plans to launch these commercial space flights within the next two years, and 400 people have already signed up. Earlier this year, Virgin Galactic, announced the first commercial contracts to fly scientists into space for the purpose of conducting research experiments.

So what comes next for Branson after he’s done exploring oceanic trenches? NewsFeed promises to let you know — but we won’t put any limits on his capabilities.

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