Richard Branson's maiden space flight has managed to grab global attention. The historic flight to the edge of space on Sunday embarked on a new era in the space age. Branson on Sunday touched the edge of space with three employees, including one of Indian-origin, and landed safely back to Earth, onboard his company Virgin Galactic's VSS Unity. It was the 22nd test flight of VSS Unity and the first test flight with a full crew in the cabin.
But did you know Land Rover, the British car brand owned by a subsidiary of Tata Motors' Jaguar Land Rover, had a role to play in sending Branson and his crew to space. In case you are wondering what a ground vehicle had to do with a space mission, a minor yet crucial role was played by the luxury car brand.
"This is an incredible technical and human achievement for the Virgin Galactic team as they took personal adventure to thrilling new heights. Land Rover is proud to have supported this exciting mission and we look forward to supporting all the flights into the future," Joe Eberhardt, President & CEO, Jaguar Land Rover North America, said in a statement.
Land Rover and Virgin Galactic space mission
Land Rover supported the Virgin Galactic space mission with two of its lauded SUVs. Branson arrived for the 'Unity 22' mission in a Range Rover Astronaut Edition and after a safe landing, his spacecraft was towed back by a Land Rover Defender 110. The Range Rover Astronaut Edition was unveiled by Branson and Jaguar Land Rover Chief Creative Officer Prof Gerry McGovern OBE. Created by Land Rover SV Bespoke, it is offered exclusively to Virgin Galactic Future Astronaut customers.
Land Rovers are a part of the Virgin Galactic team, helping the crew with towing the space vehicles, carrying equipment and clearing runways before take-off.
Virgin Galactic aims to fly two more flights, then start regular commercial operations from early 2022. The ultimate goal is to conduct 400 flights per year. The company has already sold nearly 600 tickets and all the future astronaut customers will be transferred in the Range Rovers.