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Witness the Full Intensity of the Varda Capsule’s Dramatic Atmospheric Re-Entry

Varda re entry

Experience the thrill of re-entering Earth’s atmosphere inside a space capsule with Varda Space Industries’ W-1 spacecraft. On February 21, 2024, the W-1 capsule successfully landed at the Utah Test and Training Range, capturing the entire fiery re-entry journey in a mesmerizing video. From separating from the satellite bus in low Earth orbit to deploying parachutes and bouncing on the ground, the footage gives viewers a front row seat to the action.

What sets this video apart is not just the visuals but also the audio. The sounds of re-entry and landing add a whole new dimension to the experience. As the camera captures the capsule’s descent, you can hear the intense moments of the journey.

According to Varda, the re-entry speeds reached Mach 25, showcasing the incredible capabilities of the spacecraft. The W-1 capsule was part of Rocket Lab’s Photon spacecraft, launched in June 2023 on SpaceX’s Transporter-8 rideshare mission, which also carried NASA’s CAPSTONE mission.

During its time in space, Varda used the capsule to test in-space manufacturing technologies, producing crystals of the antiviral drug ritonavir. This drug, essential for treating HIV and hepatitis C, was grown in the microgravity environment of low Earth orbit, highlighting the potential for pharmaceutical manufacturing in space.

Varda’s CEO, Will Bruey, explained the significance of manufacturing pharmaceuticals in space, stating that the absence of gravity allows for the creation of medicines that are not possible on Earth. By harnessing the unique conditions of space, Varda aims to make low Earth orbit more accessible to commercial industries.

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After spending eight months integrated with the Rocket Lab Photon spacecraft, the W-1 capsule returned to Earth, where it was evaluated and transported to Varda’s California headquarters for further inspection. The samples of ritonavir produced in space were sent to a pharmaceutical company for analysis, showcasing the potential of space-based manufacturing for drug development.

The success of the re-entry mission has not only demonstrated the capabilities of the spacecraft but also laid the groundwork for future endeavors in space exploration. Varda plans to share data from the re-entry with NASA and the Air Force under existing contracts, paving the way for collaborative efforts in advancing space technologies.

Witness the spectacular re-entry of the Varda Capsule in the full video below and immerse yourself in the excitement of space exploration.

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Chats and reflections on the present moment.

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Lydia Polgreen

Credit…Will Heath/NBC, via Getty Images

It is a rare thing in our rapidly secularizing country to be confronted with piety and devotion in popular culture. So it was a surprise, and a balm, to watch a man who prays daily and talks openly about his devout faith storm a bastion of earthly godlessness: “Saturday Night Live.”

I am referring, of course, to the comedian Ramy Youssef, who hosted the show on what he described in his opening monologue as “an incredibly spiritual weekend,” noting Ramadan, Easter and the arrival of a new Beyoncé album.

“I’m doing the Ramadan one,” he quipped, to peals of laughter, unspooling a very funny bit about how loving Muslims are. Youssef has mined his experience as a believer among the profane in gentle standup specials and a namesake sitcom. His entire monologue glowed with a welcoming warmth — Muslims, he seemed to say: We’re just like you.

In a country that is supposedly obsessed with diversity and inclusion, it is remarkable how rare it is to hear from a practicing Muslim in America.

Surveys by the Institute for Policy and Understanding, a nonpartisan research organization focused on Muslim Americans, have consistently found that Muslims are the most likely group to report religious discrimination in the United States. According to a Pew survey conducted in 2021, 78 percent of Americans said that there was either a lot or some discrimination against Muslims in our society. Muslims are no more likely to commit crimes than members of any other group, but crimes in which Muslims are suspects get outsized media coverage, research has shown.

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It is no surprise, then, that Islamophobia is perhaps the most tolerated form of religious prejudice. Right now, Senate Republicans appear to have persuaded several Senate Democrats to vote against a Muslim judicial nominee after smearing him, with no evidence at all, as an antisemite.

Many of the skits that toyed with religion on “S.N.L.” on Saturday were funny — Ozempic for Ramadan! Genius. But part of me winced through them as well, because I saw in Youssef something that other members of minority groups have had to do to “earn” their place in the safety of the mainstream: the performance of normalcy, of being nonthreatening and sweet, the requirement to prove that your community belongs in America just like everyone else’s.

I loved Youssef’s monologue, in which he bravely pleaded, “Please, free the people of Palestine. And please, free the hostages. All of the hostages.”

“I am out of ideas,” Youssef declared toward the end of his monologue. “All I have is prayers.”

To which this nonbeliever can only say: Same, Ramy. Same.

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