OffBeat

Meet Virgin Volcanic: A vehicle for journeying to the center of the Earth

Screw space travel, the next big thing in world exploration is way hotter.

Sir Richard Branson and Virgin have today announced Virgin Volcanic, a vehicle that will take three people to the molten lava core of active volcanos.

The corkscrew-shaped vessel, named VVS1, will dive deep into the earth’s core beginning in 2015 and start with trips to the five most active valances in the world: Etna, Stromboli, Yasur, Ambrym, and Tinakula. Branson, a self-professed “Volcanaut,” will be joined by celebrity pals Tom Hanks, Will.i.am, Seth Green, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Stephen Hawking, and Barbara Kopple on the first few volcanic expeditions.

“A window seat for a journey to the liquid core of our home planet would be a bargain at twice the price,” Hanks said.

Sounds like one hot ride, right? But before you start pinching your pennies — a deposit alone will set you back 100 million of them — and packing your bags (what does one wear when journeying to the earth’s core?), let us take a little commercial break and remind you that the Virgin Volcanic is being introduced on the eve of April 1.

Sorry sojourner, this volcanic craft is as real as Google’s 8-bit Maps cartridge for NES.

Kudos to Virgin, though, as the brand has smartly gone with a strong social push of the Vigin Volcanic hoax on Facebook, Twitter, and Google+. Branson, himself, is tweeting up a storm about the launch. One might even go so far as to call the campaign — wait for it — groundbreaking.