Sir Richard Branson is determined to press ahead with his own undersea venture following the success of film director James Cameron's journey to the deepest ocean point, it was revealed today.
Sir Richard's Virgin Oceanic deep-diving programme was to have started with a descent to the bottom of the Mariana Trench - nearly 36,000ft down in the Pacific Ocean.
But Cameron, director of the Oscar-laden Titanic film, on Monday completed his own Mariana dive in a specially designed submarine. According to National Geographic, the director's mission was cut short by a leak.
A spokeswoman for Sir Richard said the Virgin Oceanic challenge would now begin with a dive to the Puerto Rico Trench - the deepest point of the Atlantic Ocean.
Branson's Virgins Oceanic craft, unveiled during a press conference in Newport Beach, California in 2011
As already announced, Sir Richard will pilot the submersible - slightly different in design to the Cameron craft - in the Puerto Rico Trench venture which will see the Virgin boss descend about five miles.
The Virgin programme will then take in dives by human pilots to the bottom of the Arctic, Southern and Indian oceans.
Cameron's Mariana dive was the first time since 1960 that a craft had reached the deepest-known ocean point.