Varda Space delays orbital factory reentry, awaiting Air Force and FAA approval

Varda Space delays orbital factory reentry, awaiting Air Force and FAA approval

Varda Space Industries is an innovative space startup making strides in in-space manufacturing and space missions. U.S. Air Force denied Varda Space Industries’ request to land its capsule in a Utah training area. This move postponed their demonstration of in-space manufacturing. Moreover, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) rejected the company’s application for a commercial space license.

Originally planning to bring back a capsule with ritonavir crystals, a drug for HIV treatment, in mid-July, the new target dates were set for September 5 and 7. Varda Space Industries confirmed that the spacecraft is in good condition and can endure up to a year in orbit while they joined hands with regulators for the capsule’s return to Earth. The startup is searching for alternate plans and has formally appealed to the FAA to reconsider its decision. All parties will collectively explore the recovery options.

FAA conducted a draft environmental assessment for Varda’s reentry mission in March. Firstly, Varda considered six landing areas for the capsule, with the Utah Test and Training Range (UTTR). UTTR has hosted previous capsule recovery missions, making it a great choice. Varda aims to reenter monthly by 2026, a new ambitious strategy. This new reentry plan is likely contributing to the extended clearance process, planning to create appropriate precedents for future commercial reentry activities.

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