Skip to main content

Rocket Lab Spacecraft Built for Varda Successfully Operating on Orbit

The spacecraft is the first of four Rocket Lab has been contracted to build for Varda Space Industries to enable in-space manufacturing.

Rocket Lab USA, Inc. (Nasdaq: RKLB) (“Rocket Lab” or “the Company”), a global leader in launch services and space systems, today announced its spacecraft for Varda Space Industries (“Varda”), a leading in-space manufacturing and hypersonic re-entry logistics company, is successfully operating on orbit after launching from Vandenberg Space Force Base today on SpaceX’s Transporter-8 mission at 14:35 PDT (21:35 UTC).

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 on 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, 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 are 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 incorporate 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.

+ About Rocket Lab

Founded in 2006, Rocket Lab is an end-to-end space company with an established track record of mission success. We deliver reliable launch services, satellite manufacture, spacecraft components, and on-orbit management solutions that make it faster, easier and more affordable to access space. Headquartered in Long Beach, California, Rocket Lab designs and manufactures the Electron small orbital launch vehicle, the Photon satellite platform and the Company is developing the large Neutron launch vehicle for constellation deployment. Since its first orbital launch in January 2018, Rocket Lab’s Electron launch vehicle has become the second most frequently launched U.S. rocket annually and has delivered 163 satellites to orbit for private and public sector organizations, enabling operations in national security, scientific research, space debris mitigation, Earth observation, climate monitoring, and communications. Rocket Lab’s Photon spacecraft platform has been selected to support NASA missions to the Moon and Mars, as well as the first private commercial mission to Venus. Rocket Lab has three launch pads at two launch sites, including two launch pads at a private orbital launch site located in New Zealand and a third launch pad in Virginia. To learn more, visit


This press release may contain certain “forward-looking statements” within the meaning of the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995, Section 27A of the Securities Act of 1933, as amended, and Section 21E of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934, as amended. These forward-looking statements are based on Rocket Lab��s current expectations and beliefs concerning future developments and their potential effects. These forward-looking statements involve a number of risks, uncertainties (many of which are beyond Rocket Lab’s control), or other assumptions that may cause actual results or performance to be materially different from those expressed or implied by these forward-looking statements. Many factors could cause actual future events to differ materially from the forward-looking statements in this press release, including risks related to the global COVID-19 pandemic; delays and disruptions in expansion efforts; our dependence on a limited number of customers; the harsh and unpredictable environment of space in which our products operate which could adversely affect our launch vehicle and spacecraft; increased congestion from the proliferation of low Earth orbit constellations which could materially increase the risk of potential collision with space debris or another spacecraft and limit or impair our launch flexibility and/or access to our own orbital slots; increased competition in our industry due in part to rapid technological development and decreasing costs; technological change in our industry which we may not be able to keep up with or which may render our services uncompetitive; average selling price trends; failure of our launch vehicles, spacecraft and components to operate as intended either due to our error in design in production or through no fault of our own; launch schedule disruptions; supply chain disruptions, product delays or failures; design and engineering flaws; launch failures; natural disasters and epidemics or pandemics; changes in governmental regulations including with respect to trade and export restrictions, or in the status of our regulatory approvals or applications; or other events that force us to cancel or reschedule launches, including customer contractual rescheduling and termination rights; risks that acquisitions may not be completed on the anticipated time frame or at all or do not achieve the anticipated benefits and results; and the other risks detailed from time to time in Rocket Lab’s filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission (the “SEC”), including under the heading “Risk Factors” in Rocket Lab’s Annual Report on Form 10-K for the fiscal year ended December 31, 2022, which was filed with the SEC on March 7, 2023, and elsewhere (including that the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic may also exacerbate the risks discussed therein). There can be no assurance that the future developments affecting Rocket Lab will be those that we have anticipated. Except as required by law, Rocket Lab is not undertaking any obligation to update or revise any forward-looking statements whether as a result of new information, future events or otherwise.


Data & News supplied by
Stock quotes supplied by Barchart
Quotes delayed at least 20 minutes.
By accessing this page, you agree to the following
Privacy Policy and Terms and Conditions.