Varda Space Industries a newspace company pioneering commercial microgravity manufacturing has contracted with Rocket Lab for three of its Photon satellites. The deal announced on 11 August will see the Photon satellites act as platforms for Varda’s hardware, providing propulsive station keeping, power and data support. The payloads carried will be “space factories” which are intended to demonstrate the manufacturing of high-value products in zero-gravity.
Additionally, a “re-entry module” will be supplied by Varda for each of the missions in order to hopefully transport any manufactured product back to Earth. Each mission is envisioned as lasting about three months. Varda plans to launch the missions in Q1 and late-2023 and 2024. The announcement states that there is an option for Varda to order a fourth Photon.
Varda was formed in November 2020 by co-founders Will Bruey and Delian Asparouhov. It then went on to secure US$9 million in seed funding in December. At the end of July 2021 it closed its Series A funding round raising US$42 million.
Correction on 25/10/2021: Our initial article stated that Varda had ordered the three satellite buses, plus launches on the Rocket Lab Electron rocket. However, this was a misinterpretation of the original press release as during October Varda made other arrangements for launching its first satellite.