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W-Series 1, 2, 3, 4 (Winnebago 1, 2, 3, 4)

W-Series 1 [Varda Space Industries]

W-Series (also called Winnebago) are a series of spacecraft designed by Varda Space Industries, which will spend up to three months in orbit to test space manufacturing technologies. At the end of that mission, a reentry capsule will return to Earth the material produced in orbit.

Varda contracted with Rocket Lab to provide Photon spacecrafts as the base for the vehicles for in-space manufacturing company Varda Space Industries that will integrate with Varda’s space factories, enabling high-value products to be manufactured in space and returned to Earth in a re-entry capsule.

The spacecraft is the first in a series designed to demonstrate the technologies needed to manufacture materials in microgravity. The second and third spacecraft will launch by the end of 2024, following an iterative approach building upon the lessons of previous missions.

W-Series 1 (Winnebago 1) was successfully launched on the Transporter-8 flight in June 2023. Varda announced it completed an experiment on June 30 to grow crystals of ritonavir, a drug commonly used to treat HIV, inside a miniature lab contained within a nearly 1-meter wide capsule mounted to the side of a satellite flying at an altitude of more than 300 miles (500 kilometers). With the drug-making experiment finished, the next milestone in the mission was to maneuver the satellite onto a trajectory back into the atmosphere. The satellite remained in orbit as the FAA denied the return as Varda launched its vehicle into space without a reentry license.

W-Series 2 (Winnebago 2) was to be launched in November 2023 on the Transporter-9 mission, but has been delayed.

Nation: USA
Type / Application: Technology, manufacturing, micro-gravity
Operator: Varda Space Industries
Contractors: Rocket Lab (bus); Varda Space Industries (payload)
Equipment: Reentry capsule
Configuration: Pioneer (Photon-IP) bus
Propulsion: Curie engine
Power: Solar arrays, batteries
Lifetime: 3 months
Mass: ~300 kg
Orbit: 511 km × 535 km, 97.52° (#1)
Satellite COSPAR Date LS Launch Vehicle Remarks
W-Series 1 (Winnebago 1, Photon 04) 2023-084AD 12.06.2023 Va SLC-4E Falcon-9 v1.2 (Block 5) with W-Series 1, Skykraft Deployer 3, Skykraft 3A, ..., 3D, ICEYE X23, X25, X26, X30, GHOSt 3, Grégoire, Runner 1, Tomorrow R2, QPS-SAR 6, ÑuSat 40, ..., 43, Aces 1, ..., 4, HOTSAT 1, AFR, DROID.001, MuSat 1, ION-SCV 011, Outpost Mission 1, EPICHyper 2, Kelpie 2, Spei Satelles, ELO 4, MRC-100, Unicorn 2I, SATLLA 2I, URESAT 1, Istanbul, ROM 2, Orbiter SN3, Otter Pup, MDQSAT 1C, 1D, Pleiades-Squared, GEI-SAT Precursor, XVI, AII-Delta, Ayris 1, 2, EIVE, FOREST 2, Lemur-2 167, 168, MISR-A 1, MISR-B 2, Tiger 4, FOSSASat FEROX 1, ..., 4, SpaceBEE 168, ..., 179
W-Series 2 (Winnebago 2, Photon 05) - 2024 Va SLC-4E Falcon-9 v1.2 (Block 5) with W-Series 2 (Winnebago 2), YAC 1-1, Capella TBD6, QPS-SAR 8, AWS, EagleEye, Umbra-SAR 09, 10, YAM 7, MuSat 3, GNOMES 5, LUR 1, PExT, ThinkOrbital F2, ION-SCV 012, Impulse 2, Hubble 3, Dione, Kanyini, PTD 4, PTD 5, Kaladin, CroCube
W-Series 3 - 202x with ?
W-Series 4 - 202x with ?

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