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A drug produced in space by a California startup has landed safely on Earth

27 февраля 2024

A drug produced in space by a California startup has landed safely on Earth

The California-based company Varda Space Industries made history this week by successfully returning to orbit samples of the drugs it produced.

After several months of setbacks, during which the capsule for the production of medicines in space was delayed in orbit due to the ban on entering the atmosphere, on Wednesday, February 21, it landed safely in the Utah desert.

 

In June 2023, Varda Space Industries announced the successful production of the drug at the world's first mini-space factory. The drug production mission was sent into the atmosphere by a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket, which took off on June 12. The drug manufacturing process took place on the W-Series 1 satellite, which was attached to the Rocket Lab's Photon orbital platform. The drug manufacturing process lasted about 27 hours and ended on June 30. During the operation of the mini-plant, it was possible to produce crystals of ritonavir, a protease inhibitor used to treat HIV/AIDS. You may wonder why it was necessary to produce this medicine in space, which seems like a lot of work, but there is a good reason for that. The key role here is played by the absence of gravity. In space conditions, it is possible to accelerate the formation of crystalline structures of proteins of higher quality than on Earth. At the end of the experiment, data confirming its success was received from the satellite.

 

At that time, it was expected that the capsule would land in July 2023, but the US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) refused to re-enter the atmosphere. So she stayed in space until this week. An atmospheric re-entry capsule developed by Rocket Lab landed at the Utah Proving Ground (UTTR) at Hill Air Force Base, about 128 km west of Salt Lake City. After Varda retrieved the capsule, which landed quite safely, the company sent it back to its facilities in Los Angeles for further analysis. "Additional data collected throughout the capsule's flight, including the part where we reached hypersonic speeds, will be transferred to the Air Force and NASA in accordance with the contract concluded by Varda with these agencies," the company said in a statement.

 

A source: New-Science.ru