Varda Space industries launches first space factory


The first space factory has been launched which aims to manufacture pharmaceutical products in microgravity with a capsule return craft that will bring the generated goods back to Earth. Startup Varda Space Industries, founded by former SpaceX engineer and Will Bruey and previous principal at Founders Fund Delian Asparouhov, confirms the presence of its recently launched W-Series 1 Satellite in orbit whose mission now is to test churning out medical products during its space journey. For its first test campaign, the satellite is expected to help researchers look into developing ritonavir in space, a prescription medicine typically used for the treatment of HIV infection.


W-Series 1 Satellite is the pilot spacecraft test that can determine the launch of a series of other fleets in space which will create the first space factory. On June 13th, 2023, Varda announced the success of its W-Series 1 Satellite launch in a Twitter post, and the pharmaceutical production is expected to start this weekIn a couple of comments that members of the Varda team wrote in a Twitter thread, the space startup is going to manufacture ‘space drugs’ in orbit before sending them back in a return spacecraft capsule.

varda first space factory
images courtesy of Varda Space Industries and Rocket Lab



Developing medical products in microgravity


Varda Space Industries’ spacecraft has three main parts: a satellite bus, a payload module, and a reentry capsule. These parts are sent into space using commercial rockets (for this mission, it hitched a ride with SpaceX’s Transporter-8). Once in space, the first space factory starts working and creates different medical materials. After the materials are made, they are brought back to Earth using Varda’s special reentry vehicle. The reentry vehicle separates from the main spacecraft and comes back to Earth at very high speeds, faster than 19,000 miles per hour. To slow down, it uses a parachute that is built into it.


Varda works with research organizations to develop special formulations in a weightless environment called microgravity and boost its first space factory. Initially, the focus is on creating formulas for small molecule products, but the space startup plans to expand to biologics in the future. In its early missions, the space team aims to bring back small amounts of materials from space for testing in laboratories before further scaling up production.


‘This way, we can produce materials in space and maintain a cost-effective supply chain. Using our spacecraft as a manufacturing platform in microgravity, we revolutionize the production process. And with our economical re-entry capsules, we not only bring these products back safely to Earth, but also pave the way to study and advance hypersonic systems,’ says Varda Space Industries.

varda first space factory
the first space factory has been launched which aims to manufacture pharmaceutical products in microgravity



Varda collaborated with Rocket Lab for spacecraft


Varda Space Industries hopes to make products in its first space factory that can be used in frequently targeted markets like fiber optic cables, pharmaceuticals, and semiconductors. The startup claims that manufacturing these products may perform better when they are made in zero gravity. Varda collaborates with Rocket Lab, another space company, to create four spacecraft called Photon.


Once the Photon spacecraft is launched, Rocket Lab’s Photon will put them in a working orbit and help them stay in the right position. Photon’s job is to provide power, data, and control for Varda’s manufacturing and re-entry modules, which weigh around 120 kilograms each. All four Photon spacecraft will also include components like radios, reaction wheels, and star trackers that are designed and built by Rocket Lab.

varda first space factory
the mission of W-Series 1 Satellite in orbit is to churn out medical products during its space journey.

varda first space factory
Rocket Lab installs W-Series 1 onto the ESPA ring

varda first space factory
Rocket Lab’s completion and shipping of a custom Photon for Varda Space Industries

varda first space factory
part of the first of four Rocket Lab designed and built spacecraft for Varda’s first space factory

varda first space factory
SpaceX’s Transporter-8 carrying W-Series 1 Satellite into orbit



project info:


name: First space factory

startup: Varda Space Industries

space company: Rocket Lab