Rocket Lab Spacecraft Built for Varda Space Industries Successfully Starts On Orbit Operations

Rocket Lab Spacecraft Built for Varda Space Industries Successfully Starts On Orbit Operations

Rocket Lab USA, one of the global leaders in launch services and space systems, announced its spacecraft for Varda Space Industries, a leading in-space manufacturing, and hypersonic re-entry logistics company, is successfully operating in orbit after launching from Vandenberg Space Force Base on SpaceX’s Transporter-8 mission.

The spacecraft was developed, manufactured, and tested at Rocket Lab’s Spacecraft Production Facility in Long Beach, California, and it incorporates Rocket Lab-designed and manufactured components and software including star trackers, propulsion system, reaction wheels, solar panels, flight software, radios, composite structures and tanks, and separation systems.

Now successfully operating in orbit, the spacecraft will provide power, communications, propulsion, and attitude control to Varda’s 120kg capsule that will produce pharmaceutical products in microgravity and return them to Earth. Upon completion of the in-space manufacturing phase of Varda’s mission, Rocket Lab’s spacecraft will place Varda’s hypersonic re-entry capsule (carrying finished pharmaceuticals on board) on a return trajectory to Earth. The spacecraft is the first of four ordered by Varda to support in-space pharmaceutical manufacturing, with the second spacecraft currently undergoing assembly, integration, and testing.

“Congratulations to our Space Systems team and to Varda on the start of an incredibly exciting and important mission,” said Brad Clevenger, Vice President, of Rocket Lab Space Systems. “From technology demonstration missions in low Earth orbit to complex missions to the Moon, and now in-space manufacturing, Rocket Lab spacecraft are enabling innovation on orbit. By leveraging our deep vertical integration across Space Systems we’ve been able to deliver a high-quality spacecraft to Varda on a rapid timeline to accelerate their mission and we look forward to delivering many more.”

“We’re thrilled to have partnered with Rocket Lab on our first demonstration mission,” said Nicholas Cialdella, Head of Vehicles at Varda. “Varda has managed to go from opening our office doors to a first flight in just two and a half years. In addition to the incredible team we have at Varda, one of the key enablers to this speed was because we could focus on our core expertise, re-entry, and manufacturing while leveraging Rocket Lab’s Photon spacecraft platform.”

The Varda spacecraft is part of a growing list of complete satellites in development by Rocket Lab, including a $143 million subcontract by MDA to lead the design and manufacture of 17 spacecraft buses for Globalstar’s new Low Earth Orbit satellites. Leveraging the Company’s vertically integrated space systems capabilities, Rocket Lab spacecraft incorporates components and subsystems produced in-house to deliver cost efficiencies and accelerated production timelines. Rocket Lab components and subsystems have been successfully flown on more than 1,000 spacecraft globally.

Click here to learn about Varda’s microgravity research and development platform.

Publisher: SatNow

GNSS Constellations - A list of all GNSS satellites by constellations


Satellite NameOrbit Date
BeiDou-3 G4Geostationary Orbit (GEO)17 May, 2023
BeiDou-3 G2Geostationary Orbit (GEO)09 Mar, 2020
Compass-IGSO7Inclined Geosynchronous Orbit (IGSO)09 Feb, 2020
BeiDou-3 M19Medium Earth Orbit (MEO)16 Dec, 2019
BeiDou-3 M20Medium Earth Orbit (MEO)16 Dec, 2019
BeiDou-3 M21Medium Earth Orbit (MEO)23 Nov, 2019
BeiDou-3 M22Medium Earth Orbit (MEO)23 Nov, 2019
BeiDou-3 I3Inclined Geosynchronous Orbit (IGSO)04 Nov, 2019
BeiDou-3 M23Medium Earth Orbit (MEO)22 Sep, 2019
BeiDou-3 M24Medium Earth Orbit (MEO)22 Sep, 2019


Satellite NameOrbit Date
GSAT0223MEO - Near-Circular05 Dec, 2021
GSAT0224MEO - Near-Circular05 Dec, 2021
GSAT0219MEO - Near-Circular25 Jul, 2018
GSAT0220MEO - Near-Circular25 Jul, 2018
GSAT0221MEO - Near-Circular25 Jul, 2018
GSAT0222MEO - Near-Circular25 Jul, 2018
GSAT0215MEO - Near-Circular12 Dec, 2017
GSAT0216MEO - Near-Circular12 Dec, 2017
GSAT0217MEO - Near-Circular12 Dec, 2017
GSAT0218MEO - Near-Circular12 Dec, 2017


Satellite NameOrbit Date
Kosmos 2569--07 Aug, 2023
Kosmos 2564--28 Nov, 2022
Kosmos 2559--10 Oct, 2022
Kosmos 2557--07 Jul, 2022
Kosmos 2547--25 Oct, 2020
Kosmos 2545--16 Mar, 2020
Kosmos 2544--11 Dec, 2019
Kosmos 2534--27 May, 2019
Kosmos 2529--03 Nov, 2018
Kosmos 2527--16 Jun, 2018


Satellite NameOrbit Date
Navstar 82Medium Earth Orbit19 Jan, 2023
Navstar 81Medium Earth Orbit17 Jun, 2021
Navstar 78Medium Earth Orbit22 Aug, 2019
Navstar 77Medium Earth Orbit23 Dec, 2018
Navstar 76Medium Earth Orbit05 Feb, 2016
Navstar 75Medium Earth Orbit31 Oct, 2015
Navstar 74Medium Earth Orbit15 Jul, 2015
Navstar 73Medium Earth Orbit25 Mar, 2015
Navstar 72Medium Earth Orbit29 Oct, 2014
Navstar 71Medium Earth Orbit02 Aug, 2014


Satellite NameOrbit Date
NVS-01Geostationary Orbit (GEO)29 May, 2023
IRNSS-1IInclined Geosynchronous Orbit (IGSO)12 Apr, 2018
IRNSS-1HSub Geosynchronous Transfer Orbit (Sub-GTO)31 Aug, 2017
IRNSS-1GGeostationary Orbit (GEO)28 Apr, 2016
IRNSS-1FGeostationary Orbit (GEO)10 Mar, 2016
IRNSS-1EGeosynchronous Orbit (IGSO)20 Jan, 2016
IRNSS-1DInclined Geosynchronous Orbit (IGSO)28 Mar, 2015
IRNSS-1CGeostationary Orbit (GEO)16 Oct, 2014
IRNSS-1BInclined Geosynchronous Orbit (IGSO)04 Apr, 2014
IRNSS-1AInclined Geosynchronous Orbit (IGSO)01 Jul, 2013