Land Rover has been Virgin Galactic's automotive partner, providing Richard Branson's space fetish with vehicles for use in and around its bases of operations. Now, the automaker has whipped up a special edition just for the souls who intend to take SpaceShipTwo to the edge of space.
This week, Land Rover's Special Vehicle Operations unveiled the Range Rover Astronaut Edition. Only available to those who sign up to be a Virgin Galactic Future Astronaut, the vehicle features space-themed doodaddery inside and out. It's available with a buyer's choice of a plug-in hybrid or V8 powertrain.
The Astronaut Edition's exterior is swathed in the one-off Zero Gravity Blue paint job, which Land Rover says is "inspired by the depth and intensity of the night sky." The only other major additions to the exterior are a set of puddle lamps, which bear the silhouette of Virgin Galactic's SpaceShipTwo craft, and some Astronaut Edition badges on the side and tailgate.
The interior gets most of the attention. The cupholders carry a piece of the Virgin Spaceship Unity's front landing skid, one of which has a Richard Branson quote on it, but it'll be swapped out for a piece of that astronaut's own ship after the flight ends. There's a unique "DNA of Flight" graphic on the center console and rear armrest. The door handles are made from solid aluminum and carry a constellation pattern, and it's repeated on the back of each front headrest. Astronauts can also have their initials stitched on the headrests.
Before you go wondering how astronauts can afford Range Rovers, it's worth noting that these aren't "astronauts" as you might think of them, scientists and engineers who spend their whole lives preparing for the rigors of space travel. Instead, these are space tourists plunking down $250,000 for 90 seconds of zero-gravity experience. There is some pre-flight training, of course, but it's not exactly NASA.
Nevertheless, odds are that Virgin's Future Astronauts won't have too much trouble plunking down whatever cash is required to own this Range Rover -- the automaker didn't specify how much it would cost, but for context, a standard Range Rover Autobiography starts at $143,000 in the US.