Land Rover extends 3-year global partnership with Virgin Galactic

Land Rover is extending its three-year global partnership with Virgin Galactic, the world’s first commercial ‘spaceline’.

The British manufacturer marked the partnership extension by deploying a Range Rover Astronaut Edition luxury SUV to tow the VSS Imagine – Virgin Galactic’s latest suborbital spacecraft – which made its public debut on March 30, 2021, at Spaceport America in New Mexico.

One of Virgin Galactic’s future astronauts, Dee Chester, had a unique opportunity in the rollout of VSS Imagine, as her Range Rover Astronaut Edition towed the new spaceship out of the hangar for the first time.

Under the agreement Land Rover will remain an integrated part of Virgin Galactic’s day-to-day operations as the company begins a regular commercial service with a small but growing fleet of suborbital spaceships.

Virgin Galactic
Dee Chester uses her Range Rover Astronaut Edition to tow VSS Imagine. Credits: Land Rover/Virgin Galactic

Virgin Galactic’s third spaceship, VSS Imagine will commence ground testing, with glide flights planned for this summer from Spaceport America in New Mexico.

Virgin Galactic regularly uses Land Rover vehicles, for roles which include towing space vehicles, carrying equipment and clearing runways before take-off.

Key roles

Land Rover played key roles during Virgin Galactic’s first two spaceflights which saw the company become the first private company to fly humans to space on a spaceship designed for commercial service.

A fleet of Land Rovers also supported Virgin Galactic’s relocation from its manufacturing and test facilities in Mojave, California, to Spaceport America in New Mexico – the world’s first purpose-built commercial spaceport.

Virgin Galactic has to date signed up 600 future astronaut customers, who will be transported to their suborbital space flights from Spaceport America, in Land Rover vehicles.

In 2019, Richard Branson, Virgin Galactic founder and Prof Gerry McGovern, Jaguar Land Rover Chief Creative Officer, unveiled the Range Rover Astronaut Edition.

Branson plans to fly to space later in 2021 aboard a Virgin Galactic spacecraft.

Created by Land Rover SV Bespoke and offered exclusively to Virgin Galactic future astronauts, each Range Rover Astronaut Edition luxury SUV celebrates the partnership’s shared values and Virgin Galactic’s future astronaut community’s historic contribution to the democratisation of space.

‘Big adventure’

Joe Eberhardt, President and CEO, Jaguar Land Rover North America, said: “Accessible space travel for explorers worldwide is the next great big adventure.

“Land Rover is proud to work alongside the Virgin Galactic team to support all future astronauts as they push the boundaries of personal adventure even further.”

Michael Colglazier, Chief Executive Officer, Virgin Galactic, said: “Land Rover vehicles provide invaluable support on the ground in Mojave and at Spaceport America in New Mexico.

“It is also fabulous to see our future astronauts around the world enjoying the unique Range Rover Astronaut Edition. We are delighted to be able to extend this strong partnership.

“With a shared pioneering spirit, pursuit of adventure and vision to push the boundaries of travel, this is a natural collaboration between our two companies and one that will take exploration to new heights.”

Virgin Galactic Holdings is a vertically integrated aerospace and space travel company, pioneering human spaceflight for private individuals and researchers, as well as a manufacturer of advanced air and space vehicles.

It is developing a spaceflight system designed to offer customers a unique and transformative experience.