Yesterday, Varda Space Industries said it would launch its first microgravity factory as a Falcon 9 rideshare mission in early 2023. Founded last year and incubated at Founders Fund, Varda has raised $50+ million from VCs.
In selecting SpaceX, Varda “immediately went with what we were comfortable with,”cofounder and president Delian Asparouhov told Payload. “It was pretty quick…We probably started thinking about signing a launch agreement in June, and had it signed by July.”
- Varda CEO/cofounder Will Bruey is an ex-SpaceX engineer. Some early Varda employees also have backgrounds working on launch integration at SpaceX, Asparouhov said.
- For future missions, as the market matures and evolves, Asparouhov said Varda may cast a wider net when picking launch providers.
On operating tempo: Aspaurohov says Varda is “right on track,” save for business development convos, which “are going a lot faster than I honestly would have expected.”
In August, Varda selected Rocket Lab to build the satellite busses for its first three “space factories.” Composed of a microgravity manufacturing module and re-entry capsule, Varda’s factory will be integrated with Rocket lab’s Photon satellite platform.
Looking forward: Varda completed a preliminary design review this summer and plans to conduct a critical design review in January, per Asparouhov. After that, the company will begin building its spacecraft, integrate them with Photon, and finally, ship the final product to SpaceX. Varda’s second and third spacecraft are slated to launch by Q4 2024.