Branson Heads for the Center of the Earth

By Douglas Messier
Parabolic Arc Managing Editor

With the first commercial flight of SpaceShipTwo right on schedule for this Christmas, Sir Richard Branson has time to plan a trip to where no man (outside of cheesy sci-fi novels and even cheesier movies based on said novels) has ever gone before: the center of the Earth.

Making headlines for the first time in years, Britain’s pathologically reclusive and chronically publicity-shy answer to Howard Hughes announced his latest venture, Virgin Volcanic, on the first day of April. Branson plans to screw his way to the top bottom of an active volcano and through the center of Earth’s molten core using a giant carbon-composite VVS1 vehicle that looks exactly like….wait for it….a giant screw.

“Using patented carbon-carbon materials pioneered for deep space exploration, Virgin is proud to announce a revolutionary new vehicle, VVS1, which will be capable of plunging three people into the molten lava core of an active volcano,” Virgin Volcanic announced breathlessly on its website.

“Sir Richard Branson will go on the first expedition along with Tom Hanks, Academy Award winning actor and star of Joe Versus the Volcano; Black Eyed Peas recording artist and science enthusiast; actor/producer Seth Green; and two-time Academy Award winning documentary filmmaker Barbara Kopple.”

Now, my sharp-eyed Parabolic Arc readers, who number in the tens of millions and are increasing every second, have probably noticed that the vehicle can carry three humans while the first expedition will include a crew of five. (Four and and a half if you count Seth Green, who is very short and may not, in fact, be human. But, that’s another story.) Assuming this is not a typo, you also might reasonably conclude that Richard Branson has a screw loose (if you haven’t figured that out that already).

“In future this technology can be developed as a clean, safe and fast alternative to trans-continental commercial aviation,” the announcement continues. “By taking the heat from molten lava Virgin Volcanic plans to develop a totally renewable energy source to power the VVS1. It is seen as a way to literally fulfil Richard Branson’s philosophy of screwing business as usual.”

[Insert Richard Branson and screwing joke here]

Branson says he will begin screwing the Earth in 2015, or 18 to 24 months thereafter, said schedule being adjusted on a rolling basis during the billionaire’s infrequent press availabilities. Early Virgin Volcanauts, who also include actor/governor/adulterer Arnold Schwarzenegger, who really doesn’t know any better, and brainiac physicist Stephen Hawking, who should be a lot smarter than this, have already put down $1 million deposits for early expeditions. Parabolic Arc wishes them luck. They will need it.

If you want to learn more about this seemingly foolish plan, this visit