We guess space is the ultimate "off-road."
For a brand with the word "land" in its name, Land Rover seems to have a fascination with space exploration. Outer space is off-road, after all. The company previously built a Range Rover Astronaut Edition to help reveal Virgin Galactic's first-ever commercial spacecraft. Only customers who signed up for the Virgin Galactic Future Astronaut program (a $250,000 ticket) were permitted to buy one. More than 600 people have reportedly reserved a flight, though we aren't sure if everyone will get the special edition Range Rover.
Last weekend, Virgin Galactic completed its first fully crewed space flight, with Sir Richard Branson on board as a mission specialist. When Sir Richard and his six-member crew returned back to Earth, a 2022 Land Rover Defender 110 was waiting at the Spaceport America in New Mexico to tow the SpaceShipTwo Unity craft.
Virgin hasn't published any weight specifications for the SpaceShipTwo Unity, but it clearly falls within the Defender's 8,201-pound towing capacity. In addition to using a Defender to tow its spacecraft, Virgin Galactic employs Land Rovers for everyday tasks, such as carrying equipment or clearing runways.
"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," said Stephen Attenborough, Chief Customer Officer for Virgin Galactic. "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 Virgin Galactic Unity 22 livestream video shows the Defender at around the 1:31:29 mark. It looks like the Defender doesn't struggle at all to tow the spacecraft, allowing Sir Branson to emerge victorious from his mission.
"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, and CEO of 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."