Land Rover Astronaut Edition

Matt Posky
by Matt Posky

Exclusivity is the name of the game for high-end automakers. While mainstream brands are busy chasing down volume, they’re courting your betters. Unfortunately, not every manufacturer can simply tag a vehicle with a lofty MSRP and call it a day. They have to convince their smaller customer base that they’re getting something special in return. Enter the most insane special edition we’ve seen in a while: the Land Rover Astronaut Edition.

As the name suggests, this is an SUV literally reserved for those who have been in space — or, more accurately, have set aside the necessary funds to do so through Virgin Galactic.

The vehicle is the offspring of a longstanding partnership between Land Rover Special Vehicle Operations and Richard Branson’s space-fairing lovechild, so owners will actually be more astro-tourist than astronaut. That said, they’ll still be able to proclaim they’ve been to sub-orbital space and motion to their “Zero Gravity Blue” SUV to prove it.

The Astronaut Edition is based on the short-wheelbase Range Rover Autobiography and comes in two flavors. Those interested in virtue signaling after utilizing the planet’s finite resources to engage in some cosmic sightseeing will appreciate the P400e plug-in hybrid’s eco-friendly 2.0-liter four-cylinder and electric motor. But everyone else will probably want the high-performance P525, which comes with a supercharged 5.0-liter V8 making 518 ponies.

Regardless of powertrain, all Astronaut Edition vehicles receive white leather interiors with contrasting blue stitching and a smattering of carbon fiber. Obviously, space-themed badging abounds — extending all the way to a bespoke puddle lamp design featuring a silhouette of Virgin Galactic’s SpaceShipTwo. However, the most interesting inclusion has to be the custom cup holder crafted from the spaceship’s front landing skid, which can be swapped.

From Land Rover:

Inside, the Astronaut Edition features a crafted piece of the spaceship’s front landing skid that flew on Virgin Spaceship Unity’s first space flight in December 2018. Part of that skid, which provides the spaceship with a highly effective, lightweight braking mechanism, has been re-purposed to form two discs within the cup holders. One of these references a quote which Richard Branson often makes to his fellow Future Astronauts — ‘See you up there’ -and the other features the details of the space flight. Once a Future Astronaut has flown to space, and becomes an astronaut, this will be swapped out with part of the wooden skid from that customer’s own spaceflight, personally inscribed with the specific details of a life changing experience.

As a ticket to space currently costs $250,000 with Virgin and only exist in limited quantities, very few Land Rover Astronaut Editions are likely to be manufactured. The automaker has not yet specified a price tag for the model, but it’s going to expensive — not that it matters to any of us little people stuck on the ground.

[Images: Jaguar Land Rover]

Matt Posky
Matt Posky

A staunch consumer advocate tracking industry trends and regulation. Before joining TTAC, Matt spent a decade working for marketing and research firms based in NYC. Clients included several of the world’s largest automakers, global tire brands, and aftermarket part suppliers. Dissatisfied with the corporate world and resentful of having to wear suits everyday, he pivoted to writing about cars. Since then, that man has become an ardent supporter of the right-to-repair movement, been interviewed on the auto industry by national radio broadcasts, driven more rental cars than anyone ever should, participated in amateur rallying events, and received the requisite minimum training as sanctioned by the SCCA. Handy with a wrench, Matt grew up surrounded by Detroit auto workers and managed to get a pizza delivery job before he was legally eligible. He later found himself driving box trucks through Manhattan, guaranteeing future sympathy for actual truckers. He continues to conduct research pertaining to the automotive sector as an independent contractor and has since moved back to his native Michigan, closer to where the cars are born. A contrarian, Matt claims to prefer understeer — stating that front and all-wheel drive vehicles cater best to his driving style.

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  • Rudiger Rudiger on May 14, 2019

    Dang, is it April 1st already? How long have I been asleep? What year is it?

    • Lie2me Lie2me on May 14, 2019

      1969 and we just got back from the moon, everything in our culture is space orientated. You and Land Rover have been asleep for 50 frickin' years

  • Garrett Garrett on May 14, 2019

    Horrible co-branding. Nobody considers Land Rover vehicles to be reliable. Why would you want that association with your space flight venture?

  • 3-On-The-Tree I don’t think Toyotas going down.
  • ToolGuy Random thoughts (bulleted list because it should work on this page):• Carlos Tavares is a very smart individual.• I get the sense that the western hemisphere portion of Stellantis was even more messed up than he originally believed (I have no data), which is why the plan (old plan, original plan) has taken longer than expected (longer than I expected).• All the OEMs who have taken a serious look at what is happening with EVs in China have had to take a step back and reassess (oversimplification: they were thinking mostly business-as-usual with some tweaks here and there, and now realize they have bigger issues, much bigger, really big).• You (dear TTAC reader) aren't ready to hear this yet, but the EV thing is a tsunami (the thing has already done the thing, just hasn't reached you yet). I hesitate to even tell you, but it is the truth.
  • ToolGuy ¶ I have kicked around doing an engine rebuild at some point (I never have on an automobile); right now my interest level in that is pretty low, say 2/5.¶ It could be interesting to do an engine swap at some point (also haven't done that), call that 2/5 as well.¶ Building a kit car would be interesting but a big commitment, let's say 1/5 realistically.¶ Frame-up restoration, very little interest, 1/5.¶ I have repainted a vehicle (down to bare metal) and that was interesting/engaging (didn't have the right facilities, but made it work, sort of lol).¶ Taking a vehicle which I like where the ICE has given out and converting it to EV sounds engaging and appealing. Would not do it anytime soon, maybe 3 to 5 years out. Current interest level 4/5.¶ Building my own car (from scratch) would have some significant hurdles. Unless I started my own car company, which might involve other hurdles. 😉
  • Rover Sig "Value" is what people perceive as its worth. What is the worth or value of an EV somebody creates out of a used car? People value different things, but for a vehicle, people generally ascribe worth in terms of reliability, maintainability, safety, appearance and style, utility (payload, range, etc.), convenience, operating cost, projected life, support network, etc. "Value for money" means how much worth would people think it had compared to competing vehicles on the market, in other words, would it be a good deal to buy one, compared to other vehicles one could get? Consider what price you would have to ask for it, including the parts and labor you put into it, because that would affect the “for the money” part of the “value for money” calculation. An indicator of whether people think an EV-built-in-a-used-car would provide "value for money" is the current level of demand for used cars turned into EVs. Are there a lot of people looking for these on the market? Or would building one just be a hobby? Repairing an existing EV, bringing it back into spec, might create better value for the money. Although demand for EVs is reportedly down recently.
  • ToolGuy Those of you who aren't listening to the TTAC Podcast, you really don't know what you are missing.
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