Race to the bottom of the ocean: Triton

Triton submarines is one of four teams trying to reach the bottom of the sea. The company wants paying customers to join them for a ride in a three-seater yellow submarine. The team says its vessel - kitted out with a tough glass sphere - will offer an unrivalled view of the deepest part of the ocean.
  • 120 minutes to reach the bottom
  • 3 maximum crew
  • 1 Pressure hull, 2.03m
  • 112 hours air supply
  • Height: 4.1m (13ft 6in)
    Width: 4.1m (13ft 6in)
    Breadth: 2.2m (7ft 3in)

A taste of the abyss

The BBC's Rebecca Morelle joins Patrick Lahey from Triton Submarines as he takes a prototype of the deep-diving sub for a test-dive in the Bahamas.

World's toughest?

Bill Raggio from Rayotek Scientific describes the difficulties of making glass that can cope with the enormous pressures found at the bottom of the ocean.

Bill Raggio, from Rayotek Scientific, describes the difficulties of making glass that has to keep a three-person crew safe from the crushing pressure of the deepest ocean.

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Triton Submarines is a Florida-based company that designs and manufactures private submarines.

Currently its deepest-diving vehicle, which was recently tested in the Bahamas, can plunge 1km (0.6 miles) down.

But it forms a prototype for a vessel that will eventually be able to make the 11km (7-mile) journey to the bottom of the Mariana Trench.

The centrepiece of the design is a glass sphere that is 15cm (6in) thick, which is being manufactured by Rayotek Scientific in San Diego.

It will have to keep the three-man crew safe from the crushing pressures of the deep - but should also provide them with a 360-degree view during the descent.

Triton's aim is a commercial one: the team plans to put tickets on sale for those who want to take the dive.

Bruce Jones, the company's chief executive, said: "You have thousands of people that climb Everest, and Richard Branson is taking tonnes of deposits for trips into near-Earth orbit.

"We think you can get $250,000 from some real adventuresome types to say they're one of a handful of people who've been to the deepest spot in the ocean."

The company hopes to have the craft ready in the next two years.

360 degrees: Drag your mouse over the image to spin the submarines Graphic: Two Triton 3600 submarines

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