Startup’s Successful Mission Produces Drugs in Space

California's Varda Space Industries achieves a major milestone by producing drugs in space, despite delays.

By Sunil Sonkar
2 Min Read
Startup's Successful Mission Produces Drugs in Space

Space mission is gradually taking momentum and startups are playing important role lately. A California-based Varda Space Industries is in the news for achieving a remarkable feat with its recent mission. It has produced drugs in the space. It is a significant milestone in space-based manufacturing. Everything was not smooth as the startup faced delays in its return journey. Well, the company has claimed to have achieved success as expected.

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Varda Space Industries developed spacecraft Varda and launched it using SpaceX rocket in June 2023. It was a special spacecraft designed to autonomously synthesize ritonavir, a medication for HIV-AIDS patients, while orbiting our Earth. The primary objective of the spacecraft was to demonstrate the viability of space factories in manufacturing products. This means manufacturing is possible in the absence of gravity. The trial started with pharmaceuticals and is learned to be expanding eventually into other industries including fiber optics and semiconductors.

The spacecraft was supposed to return back within a month of its launch, but it was delayed due to some regulatory hurdles. It landed back in February 2024. However, the manufactured product underwent comprehensive analyses and proved successful as well as stable throughout the reentry process.

Co-founder Delian Asparouhov summarized the achievement saying the space drugs cooked real good. His tweet on March 20 read, “Our process and hardware performed flawlessly throughout in-orbit operations, reentry, and recovery operations.”

Following success the startup now believes to leverage space factory to come up with more drugs manufactured in the absence of gravity. This will further advance the possibilities of space-based manufacturing for critical products.

The achievement of Varda highlights innovative capabilities of startups in the space. It has simultaneously opened up doors for more startups to explore the potential of space-based manufacturing.

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