Range Rover Astronaut Edition redefines 'exclusive buyer'
13 May 2019 - Autoblog
SVO designs a re-entry vehicle specifically for Virgin Galactic space tourists
It will take more than money, connections, and a history with the brand to buy a Range Rover Astronaut Edition. This is a limited-edition vehicle you can only buy if you've been to space with Virgin Galactic. The English brand created the vehicle as part of its five-year partnership with the commercial spaceflight company. The only people allowed a crack at purchasing it are those among the corps of Future Astronauts — more than 600 strong — who paid $250,000 each for a ticket to suborbital space on SpaceShipTwo.
Created by the Special Vehicle Operations division, the rocketman Range Rover starts with an Autobiography Edition drenched in Zero Gravity Blue paint "inspired by the beautiful effects of the night sky." Aluminum door handles are engraved with "Virgin Galactic's Future Astronaut community constellation pattern," the puddle lights project an image of SpaceShipTwo, and badges on the tailgate and fenders proclaim this the Astronaut Edition.
Inside, the same SpaceShipTwo graphic shows up on the headrests and above the glove compartment, while the center tunnel sports silhouettes of other moments in manned flight starting with Icarus. The cupholders sport two discs fashioned from the front landing skid of Spaceship Unity, the first Virgin Galactic craft to reach space in December 2018. One disc reads "See you up there," a favorite quote from Virgin Galactic chief Richard Branson, the other displays details of the flight. After a Future Astronaut becomes an astronaut, the latter disc will be swapped for one made from the landing skid on used on that astronaut's flight.
There will be two powertrains available, one with a 518-horsepower 5.0-liter V8, the other with the 398-hp P400e plug-in hybrid system. Gone are the days when NASA astronauts got sweetheart $1-a-year lease deals on a Chevrolet Corvette. Future commercial astronauts will need to pay list price for this honor, and that starts at $144,295 in the U.S.