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Space manufactured drugs could touch down in SA

Manufacturing News

South Australia could become part of the in-space manufacturing industry after Varda Space Industries and Southern Launch announced a partnership to conduct space capsule re-entry operations at the Koonibba Test Range in South Australia.

Torrance, California-based Varda are developing orbital manufacturing and space re-entry systems, utilising the space environment’s advantages including microgravity and vacuum.

Varda plans to develop pharmaceuticals in space that cannot be manufactured on Earth, returning products to Earth using their specialised return capsules.

Southern Launch Chief Executive Officer Lloyd Damp said: “In-space manufacturing is the next evolution of humanity’s industrial capacity, and elements produced in-orbit have the potential to change the course of history.

“We are excited to be partnering with Varda Space Industries to bring this emerging industry to Australia.”

The Koonibba Test Range offers over 23,000 square kilometres of uninhabited land to accept the re-entry of in-space manufacturing capsules from as early as mid-2024.

Varda Space Industries Chief Executive Officer Will Bruey said: “In the future, you will know this partnership has been successful when you look up at the sky above South Australia to see our spacecraft create a shooting star before landing softly on the desert floor.”

Southern Launch hopes South Australia can become a hub for in-space manufacturing, with rocket’s taking off from the company’s Whalers Way launch site and returning to Earth at Koonibba near Ceduna, 600 kilometres north west of Adelaide.

Damp said: “It’s likely that by the end of this decade everyday Australians will use products with parts manufactured in orbit.

“This makes space the resource industry of the future and we have the potential to expand on Australia’s high-tech manufacturing industry.”

Picture: Varda Space Industries

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