Varda Space receives permission to return the pharmaceutical factory

Varda Space has received permission from the US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) to return the W-Series 1 satellite capsule to Earth. It took 8 months to do this.

A capsule containing the results of the Varda Space experiments. Source: Varda Space Industries

The W-Series 1 satellite was launched in June 2023. The main purpose of the mission was to study the behavior of crystals of an active substance used to produce a cure for HIV. They have been subjected to various experiments to test how their properties and structure change in space. In the future, the crystals were to be returned to Earth using a special capsule. Its diameter is about 90 cm, height — 74 cm, weight — less than 90 kg.

Initially, Varda Space hoped that they would be able to return the capsule in July 2023. But it had complications related to the need to obtain a permit. The main problem was that Varda Space became the first company to attempt to obtain a license to return cargo from space in accordance with the new rules called Part 450. They were intended to simplify the process of regulating such operations, but ironically, on the contrary, they only complicated the whole process. Obtaining the permit required coordination between three different agencies that had not previously worked with this.

Varda Space Orbital Factory (concept). Source: Varda Space

All this led to a strong delay in the process. In September 2023, the FAA and the US Air Force refused to grant Varda Space a permit, because of which the company had to repeat the procedure. As a result, the license was issued on February 14.

The capsule will be returned on February 21. The landing zone covers the territory of the military training ground in Utah and the neighboring Dugway test site (in September last year, a capsule with samples of the asteroid Bennu landed there). The satellite will burn up in the atmosphere.

The next Varda Space mission will be launched in the middle of this year. It is not yet known exactly where the company plans to land its capsule. Last year, Varda Space signed an agreement with Southern Launch. It allows it to land at the Australian Koonibba training site.

According to

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