Land Rover Defender supports Virgin Galactic's first fully-manned flight

Land Rover Defender supports Virgin Galactic's first fully-manned flight

12th Jul 2021 6:38 pm

Virgin Galactic recently completed its first fully crewed space flight; Land Rover Defender used to tow the SpaceShipTwo Unity.

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Virgin Galactic recently completed its first successful fully crewed space flight with Land Rover’s SUVs acting as the support vehicles on the ground. The company’s SUVs are being used by Virgin Galactic for a number of roles including ferrying passengers to the space craft and acting as the tow vehicle. The two companies have been in a partnership since April 2014.

  • Partnership between Virgin Galactic and Land Rover ongoing since 2014
  • Virgin Galactic founder Sir Richard Branson part of first fully-manned mission
  • Branson transported to space craft in a Range Rover Astronaut Edition

The SpaceShipTwo Unity craft travelled with four Mission Specialists and two pilots on board. The six-strong crew started and completed their mission at Spaceport America in New Mexico. Sir Richard arrived for the ‘Unity 22’ mission in a Range Rover Astronaut Edition and after a safe landing his spacecraft was towed back to waiting well-wishers by a Land Rover Defender 110.

The company’s fourth crewed spaceflight was the first to carry a full crew. Those in the cabin experienced out-of-seat weightlessness and incredible views of Earth from space.

“This is an incredible technical and human achievement for the Virgin Galactic team as they took personal adventure to thrilling new heights,” said Joe Eberhardt, President & CEO, Jaguar Land Rover North America. “Land Rover is proud to have supported this exciting mission and we look forward to supporting all the flights into the future.”

Virgin Galactic is the world’s first commercial ‘spaceline’. It has already signed up around 600 Future Astronaut customers, who will be transported to their flights in vehicles supplied by partner Land Rover.

Stephen Attenborough, Chief Customer Officer for Virgin Galactic, said, “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.” 

The Land Rover-Virgin Galactic Partnership: A brief overview

Land Rover and Virgin Galactic first entered into a partnership in April 2014 with the former providing its SUVs  for use by the Virgin Galactic team for roles which include towing the space vehicles, carrying equipment and clearing runways before take-off for the first private company to fly humans into space in a craft designed for commercial service.

In 2019, Sir Richard Branson and Jaguar Land Rover Chief Creative Officer Prof Gerry McGovern OBE unveiled the Range Rover Astronaut Edition in 2019. Created by Land Rover SV Bespoke and offered exclusively to Virgin Galactic Future Astronaut customers.

The two companies recently came together to further extend the partnership up till 2024 with the event marked by the unveiling of the next generation of Virgin Galactic’s space craft SpaceShipThree, the VSS Imagine with the vehicle going into testing this year.

Land Rover in India: Recent launches

Coming to Land Rover's presense in India, the carmaker in the past few months has launched a number of updated products. Starting with the Land Rover line-up, the carmaker has commenced sales of the three-door Defender 90. Moving to the more upscale Range Rover SUVs, the carmaker has launched the updated Range Rover Evoque and Range Rover Velar, both with more powerful diesel engines, along with the 2021 Range Rover Sport SVR performance SUV.

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