The startup Varda Space Industries, founded less than a year ago by Will Bruey, of SpaceX, and the director of the Founders Fund, Delian Asparouhov, has proposed as its inaugural launch the construction of the first industrial park in orbit, for which it has already raised more than 50 million dollars.
Based in Torrance, California, Varda just closed a funding round led by Khosla Ventures and Caffeinated Capital, joined by investors such as Lux Capital, General Catalyst and Founders Fund. With the newly raised $ 42 million and $ 11 million raised in a previous initial round, the company has brought in a total of $ 53 million since its founding.
The startup’s goal is to assemble a team of more than 40 people to go further than Elon Musk’s International Space Station and SpaceX: launch and return products made in space more quickly. For now, it has more than 16 experts from the aerospace industry, several of them from Elon Musk’s company.
According to Delian Asparouhov, what sets Varda apart from other companies working in manufacturing in space is that he focuses on how that adds value to those on Earth, rather than in space. To do this, the startup will try to take advantage of the markets for products such as semiconductors, fiber optic cables or pharmaceutical products, “extremely large” markets on planet Earth.
Both founders agree that nothing they do is new, except as a whole. Varda is creating a three-piece spacecraft, composed of a commercial space platform, the manufacturing module, and a capsule protected by a heat shield to re-enter the atmosphere and land with a parachute.
The company aims to make its first launch and re-entry in 18 months, with the aim of bringing back around 100 kilograms of material. Varda is currently at the preliminary design review level, and is reviewing final details with regulators and stakeholders.
In terms of product, Varda has a much broader potential market than space tourism, according to Asparouhov. Therefore, they want to start this mission first and then from there, and constantly expand to larger missions and go to more fixed stations in orbit.