Richard Branson made headlines for completing the first successful fully-crewed space flight of Virgin Galactic. But what were the support vehicles that towed back the SpaceShipTwo Unity craft when it was on the ground?
Those were Land Rover Defenders 110. Branson, together with his crewmates, arrived at the Unity 22 mission launch in a special edition Land Rover – the Ranger Rover Astronaut Edition; the perfect ride for those heading to space.
“This is an incredible technical and human achievement for the Virgin Galactic team as they took personal adventure to thrilling new heights. Land Rover is proud to have supported this exciting mission, and we look forward to supporting all the flights into the future,” said Joe Eberhardt, president, and CEO of Jaguar Land Rover North America.
The partnership between Land Rover and Virgin Galactic doesn't end with their first successful crewed flight. The world's first commercial “spaceline” will transport future astronauts to their flights using Land Rover vehicles. Aside from being Branson's ride and tow vehicle, Land Rovers are used in the daily life of the Virgin Galactic team. These vehicles are used to carry equipment, clear runways before take-off, and complete other day-to-day operations. In fact, they've been doing so since 2014.
As for the Range Rover Astronaut Edition, it was introduced by Land Rover in 2019. The special edition Range Rovers, which were built by the brand's Special Vehicle Operations (SVO), was offered to customers that will fly on Virgin Galactic's future space trips.
“Land Rover has been by our side, on our side, and part of our daily lives at Virgin Galactic since 2014. It was completely fitting that these capable, luxurious, and iconic vehicles played a central part in today’s historic events. As we look ahead to the start of a full commercial service, we couldn’t be more delighted to know that Land Rover will be going Above and Beyond, as together we open space to change the world for good,” said Stephen Attenborough, Chief Customer Officer for Virgin Galactic.
If you happen to be one of the lucky few booked for a Virgin Galactic flight to space, we suggest you find a Ranger Rover Astronaut Edition for yourself. A great ride to match someone who's been to outer space, after all.