N. Chandrasekaran, Chairman, Tata Sons, expressed pride over the role of Jaguar Land Rover in Virgin Galactic founder Richard Branson and the Virgin Galactic crew’s recent fully crewed passenger flight into space. “Congratulations to Sir Richard Branson and the Virgin Galactic crew on the completion of the first ever fully crewed passenger flight into space. This marks a new and exhilarating milestone in space exploration,” Chandrasekaran wrote on LinkedIn.
“I am particularly pleased since Jaguar Land Rover has been a partner to Virgin Galactic since 2014. In the launch yesterday, the Land Rover Astronaut Edition and the Defender 110 models served as part of the mission, transporting the crew and towing the spacecraft. Alongside Thierry Bolloré and our team at JLR, we are all proud of the role we have played towards this vital mission, and look forward to future efforts,” he added.
Branson and his crew from his Virgin Galactic space-tourism company launched into space aboard his own winged rocket ship on Sunday. They reached an altitude of 86 km over the New Mexico desert, sufficient for experiencing three to four minutes of weightlessness and witnessing the curvature of the earth. They then glided to a runway landing.
The nearly 71-year old billionaire had arrived for the mission in a Range Rover Astronaut Edition. The spacecraft, after a safe landing was towed back by a Land Rover Defender 110.“At the Tata Group, we share in this spirit of pioneering and redefining boundaries. This weekend’s achievement will inspire millions across younger generations, and reminds us all that the future is ours to shape,” Chandrasekaran said.
Partners since 2014
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, 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 announced the further extension of their global partnership up till 2024. “Land Rover will remain an integrated part of Virgin Galactic’s day-to-day operations as the company completes test flights with “SpaceShipTwo” and begins a regular commercial service,” the company had said in an official press release.
Land Rover vehicles are part of the daily operations of the Virgin Galactic team, with roles which include towing the space vehicles, carrying equipment and clearing runways before take-off.
Virgin Galactic has already signed up around 600 Future Astronaut customers, who will be transported to their flights from Spaceport America, in Land Rover vehicles, the company had announced. .