The American space company Varda Space Industries has encountered some issues with the space capsule they launched into space earlier this year. The plan was for the capsule to return to Earth after testing the production of various drugs in a weightless state in space.
Apparently, Varda had not obtained permission from the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) to allow the capsule to return to Earth; they had only received clearance to send it into space. Varda states that their capsule can spend up to a year in orbit around Earth and hopes that the FAA will grant them permission for the capsule to return during that time.
The delay in FAA permission is believed to be because the agency is not yet accustomed to allowing commercial spacecraft to return to Earth. The FAA’s primary concern is ensuring that spacecraft returning from space can do so safely without posing a risk to the public. An FAA spokesperson told TechCrunch about the process:
Our objective at the Utah Test and Training Range remains working with customers requesting reentry missions in a safe, secure, and sustainable fashion, upon which Varda (and potentially future partners) can model their investments, engagement, and activities. We also stress this is a whole-of-government and interagency process to set the correct precedents for future activities such as these.
Varda Space is one of the companies aiming to manufacture items in space that are difficult to produce under Earth’s gravitational conditions. In the linked article below, you can learn more about Varda Space and the British company Space Forge, both of which are also working on manufacturing things in a weightless state.