A Varda Space Pharmaceutical Factory returns to Earth

The Varda Space company has published a picture of the W-Series satellite capsule, inside which there is a space pharmaceutical factory. It successfully returned to Earth on February 21.

The capsule of the W-Series 1 satellite after returning to Earth. Source: Varda Space

The W-Series 1 satellite was launched in June 2023. The main objective of the mission was to study the behavior of crystals of the active substance necessary for the production of the medicine ritonavir (it is used to treat HIV). They have been subjected to various experiments to test how their properties and structure change in space.

To return the crystals to Earth, the satellite was equipped with a return capsule. Its diameter was about 90 cm, height — 74 cm, weight — less than 90 kg. Initially, Varda Space expected to be able to return the capsule in July 2023. But its return was delayed due to legal formalities related to changes in legislation. As a result, Varda Space managed to get permission to land only on February 14, 2024.

After that, the W-Series 1 performed a series of maneuvers that moved it from a circular to an elliptical orbit. The satellite released the capsule just before entering the atmosphere, after which it entered it itself, burning up. The capsule landed at a military training site in Utah.

Now the capsule will be transported to the headquarters of Varda Space to assess its condition. As for the ritonavir samples on board, they will be transferred to the pharmaceutical company Improved Pharma for analysis. Varda Space also announced that it would share the data obtained during atmospheric entry with NASA and the US Air Force.

The company is already preparing for the second mission, which will be launched this summer. In October, Varda Space announced an agreement with Southern Launch to land the capsule at the Koonibba Test Range in Australia. According to representatives of Varda Space, access to this range should be easier, since it has fewer users.

You can also read about how the satellite photographed the stage of a Japanese rocket that turned into space debris.

According to https://spacenews.com

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