NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — One hundred and five years ago, the Titanic struck an iceberg on its maiden voyage, sinking to the bottom of the ocean and killing 1,500 people.
Now, a company is preparing to offers tours of the wreck.
The Titanic was called the “ship of dreams,” until a nautical nightmare turned it into legend, CBS News’ Chip Reid reports. The fateful voyage fascinated the public, inspiring more than a dozen films and a new generation of explorers, like Stockton Rush.
“More people have been to space than have been to see the Titanic,” Rush said.
The wreck was discovered in 1985. Since then, fewer than 200 people have crossed over its bow or glided past its promenade decks.
Rush, the founder of a private submersible company, OceanGate, plans to increase that number.
Starting in May 2018, he will start on a series of yearly expeditions to the Titanic. It will be the first time anyone has been to the site in more than a decade.
“Definitely an 11,” Rush said of his excitement level.
The five person submersible that will be used is still under construction at a New Jersey factory. Once complete, the Cyclops 2 will be able to dive 13,000 feet.
It will be just one of five submersibles on the planet capable of reaching the Titanic and the only one that’s privately owned.
One of the goals is to generate a 3-D model of the wreck, a Unesco Underwater Heritage Site, before it’s too late.
“I’ve heard some researchers say that the Titanic will melt away and be gone in 20 years,” Rush said.
To make the most of the expeditions, OceanGate will include researchers and explorers down to the wreck for a fee. But seats on the sub don’t come cheap.
“They’re going to pay $105,129,” Rush said. “The inflation adjusted price of a first-class ticket on the Titanic in 1912.”
Even so, all 54 seats for the 2018 trips have already sold out.
Renata Rojas, a banker by trade and explorer at heart, paid for one of the seats.
“Ever since I’ve had a job, I have been saving to go to Titanic,” she said.
As for the moment when she first sets eyes on it?
“I’ll probably cry the entire time. I get emotional,” she said, tearing up.
The Titanic is lying at a depth of more than two miles under water.