theo USA TodayThe US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has refused permission for Varda Space Industries to locate its space medicine manufacturing “factory” at a location in Utah.
An FAA spokesperson said the company’s capsule is currently unapproved “based on a thorough safety, risk and impact analysis.”
Startup Varda Space said its entire space capsule system is still functioning well. It is designed to last a full year in class if necessary. “We want to continue working with the authorities to return our capsule to Earth as soon as possible,” the company wrote on social network X (Twitter).
Varda Space launched its space capsule on June 12 on a Falcon 9 rocket. The capsule weighs 120 kilograms, and is designed as a factory to produce drugs in a zero-gravity environment and transport them back to Earth.
On June 30, the company announced that it had succeeded in growing to class protein crystals of ritonavir, a drug used to treat HIV/AIDS. This is the first experiment of drug production in space.
The microgravity environment in space offers several advantages that may lead to better production of pharmaceutical protein crystals. According to NASA, protein crystals produced in space produce crystals that are larger and more perfect than those produced on Earth.
TechCrunch said re-entry of the Varda capsule was initially scheduled for September 5 or 7, but the company’s request was denied. Varda formally asked the FAA to reconsider its decision, and that request is still pending.
Varda’s pharmaceutical “factory” is the size of a yoga ball, and has been orbiting for more than a month at an altitude of more than 1,000 km.