Varda, Rocket Lab ink deal for Photon spacecraft production by 2024

California-based orbital manufacturing company, Varda Space Industries has inked a deal with aerospace company Rocket Lab to develop three Photon spacecraft to support the company’s initial mission, weeks after raising Series A funds worth USD 42 million.

Notably, the first spacecraft is expected to be delivered during the first quarter of 2023, with the second to be provided in the latter half of 2023 and the third in 2024.  

This comes as a major project for the eight-month-old Varda, marking the firm’s first three production missions to space. The contract comprises of an option for the startup to buy a fourth Photon.

Additionally, joining hands with an established company is important, primarily considering Photon’s bona fides that includes a NASA-backed mission to the moon by the end of 2021.

Seemingly, Rocket Lab was granted a subcontract by the Berkeley Space Sciences Laboratory at the University of California to develop two Photon spacecraft for a one-year project to Mars.  

Varda Space Industries is banking on major manufacturing conditions that one can only witness in space-microgravity.

The company also believes that the potential market opportunities for specialized semiconductors, bio-printed organs, fiber-optic cables, or pharmaceuticals is extremely high to make the cost of designing a spacecraft and launching it to the space worth it.

Sources cite that under the latest agreement, each Photon will come with two Varda-made modules- The first one being a microgravity production module, in which space manufacturing takes place, and the second will be a re-entry capsule developed to bring the finished products back to Earth.

According to a statement by Varda Space, “the novel approach is incremental and low-risk, attracting interest from the investment community, NASA, the Department of Defense, and others. In the coming times, the company is focusing on a near-term pragmatic approach.”

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