Virgin Galactic’s Future Astronauts have been supporting our mission to get to space from the very beginning. Everyone who has signed up for a spaceflight has become part of a wonderful community of explorers and adventurers, all connected by a passion to open space for the benefit of life on Earth.
People are always at the heart of everything we do at Virgin – and we wanted to do something a little bit special for our Future Astronauts. We teamed up with Land Rover, Virgin Galactic’s exclusive automotive partner, who have created a special edition Range Rover. It is called the Astronaut Edition and is available only to Virgin Galactic’s Future Astronaut customers.
It was a pleasure recently to be shown the special edition car in Oxford by Gerry McGovern, Land Rover’s Chief Design Officer. Gerry has a well-deserved reputation for creating beautifully designed, capable cars for this great British brand.
My favourite thing about the Astronaut Edition Range Rover is that it will feature a part of the spaceship – so our Future Astronauts’ space experiences can be remembered as they continue their journeys on Earth. The wooden skid, which is a lightweight braking system in SpaceShipTwo’s landing gear, has been refashioned and engraved to form part of centre console.
The Astronaut Edition has been created with an incredible focus on design – including the aptly named ‘Zero Gravity’ exterior colour which is unique to the car. It’s a multi-layered paint that mirrors the inky, infinite depths of a star-filled night sky. When the doors open, puddle lamps switch on to illuminate the ground and show silhouettes of SpaceShipTwo.
Land Rover has supported many of our businesses over the years: they have provided vehicles for the start of Virgin Atlantic’s world-first Upper Class Limo service and have effortlessly tackled the wild South African terrain, transporting hundreds of our guests around the beautiful Ulusaba Game Reserve. They have also played a big part in our family’s life, ferrying my kids and now my grandkids around safely. I also remember arriving by Land Rover to surprise our grandchildren last Christmas Eve and to show them the incredible footage of Virgin Galactic’s first spaceflight.
Land Rover joined Virgin Galactic in 2014 and has been our side and by our side ever since. There are Land Rovers on the ground at the company’s development and test facilities in Mojave and at its home, Spaceport America in New Mexico, providing valuable support for the Virgin Galactic team (including acting as a tow vehicle for spaceship VSS Unity) as it moves ever closer to regular commercial flights.
It’s wonderful to see the pioneering spirit and the ambitious vision of Virgin Galactic and Land Rover embodied in the new Astronaut Edition. I can’t wait for all of us to go on this exciting journey together.