Return to Earth: What the descent from space looks like

Varda Space has published a video taken by a camera installed on board the W-Series satellite capsule. It demonstrates what the return to Earth looks like.

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 drug 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. As a result, the capsule returned to Earth on February 21, 2024.

A camera located inside the capsule captured the entire process of returning from space: from its separation from the satellite to landing at a land site in Utah. It took 27 minutes.

The most spectacular part of the flight, of course, was the moment of entry into the Earth’s atmosphere. The camera managed to capture the plasma flows that appeared around the capsule. This made it possible to record the sounds that arose inside the capsule during its journey.

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