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Neutron Rocket Development: 2024 Updates

Varda Lands $90M In Series B Funding

This is a very encouraging development, not just for Varda (and Rocket Lab) but also for the potential growth of space manufacturing overall:

Astronauts have been conducting protein crystallization experiments in space for decades on the International Space Station and before that, the Space Shuttle.

But the business case for expanding this research has never materialized — until now. This is for a few different reasons, Asparouhov explained: because of the crew, there are significant limitations to the types of solvents or other materials you can bring onboard the ISS; there are constraints related to intellectual property for work that happens on the station; and pharmaceutical lab equipment designed for use in-space was generally lacking in sophistication compared to the terrestrial versions.

But much has changed, especially in the space industry. Part of the reason Varda is possible today is due to the availability of regular, low-cost rideshare launches from SpaceX and Rocket Lab’s innovations in satellite bus manufacturing. Even beyond these external partnerships, the startup has made significant headway in its own right, as the success of the first mission showed: Their reentry capsule appears to have performed flawlessly and the experiment to reformulate the HIV medicine ritonavir was executed without a hitch, it says.

Varda and Rocket Lab will launch capsule #2 later this year. Keep an eye on this relationship. It will be interesting to see how it develops now that Varda is on firmer footing.