It could become one of the most exclusive and expensive SUVs on the planet — only because you have to travel to space to buy it.
Range Rover’s latest limited run model — the Astronaut Edition — can only be purchased by those who pay at least US$250,000 ($360,000) to travel into outer space as part of the ambitious Virgin Galactic project that allows anyone to become an astronaut.
Launched by billionaire businessman Sir Richard Branson, Virgin Galactic is said to have more than 600 people who have paid to take the 4000km/h trip to briefly be 110km above the earth’s surface, in turn experiencing weightlessness and some of the most stunning views of Earth.
While Range Rover hasn’t said how many of the Astronaut Editions will be produced, it’s likely to be a two-digit number, assuming about one in 10 of the would-be astronauts decide they want a Range Rover finished in “Zero Gravity Blue” paint.
Don’t get too excited thinking that the Range Rover Astronaut Edition will perform the sorts of adventurous tricks of a spaceship — or take owners “above and beyond”, as promised in the official press material.
Based on a Range Rover Autobiogaphy, the Astronaut Edition is focused on design touches and using some of the materials from a used Virgin space ship, things that are more of a talking point rather than anything to improve the core capabilities of the vehicle.
“Land Rover vehicles have been part of daily life for the Virgin Galactic team since the launch of the partnership in 2014,” said Land Rover design chief Gerry McGovern. “The Astronaut Edition Range Rover is the next step on this journey and the chance for the Future Astronaut Community to celebrate our two brands’ shared values of pioneering spirit and true sense of adventure.”
Other than the blue hue said to be inspired by the “depth and intensity of the night sky”, there are various aesthetic tweaks designed to lure soon-to-be space travellers.
They include a unique puddle light pattern that projects an image of the Virgin Galactic SpaceShipTwo as well as astronaut badging around the car and logos on the headrests.
Arguably the most interesting feature is the cupholder bases made from the front landing skid to help slow the Unity space ship. It gets exchanged for a wooden one from the plane you travel on once the mission in complete.
No word yet on how much each will cost, although expect it to be plenty more than the $268,528 for a Range Rover Autobiography. Plus the cost of travelling to space …