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This is what it looks like to reenter Earth’s atmosphere from a space capsule’s POV

Varda Space Industries stuck a camera on its W-1 capsule to capture its first reentry mission.

Varda Space Industries

Incredible footage released by Varda Space Industries gives us a first-person view of a space capsule’s return trip to Earth, from the moment it separates from its carrier satellite in orbit all the way through its fiery reentry and bumpy arrival at the surface. Varda’s W-1 capsule landed at the Utah Test and Training Range, a military site, on February 21 in a first for a commercial company. It spent roughly eight months leading up to that in low Earth orbit, stuck in regulatory limbo while the company waited for the government approvals it needed to land on US soil, according to Ars Technica.

“Here's a video of our capsule ripping through the atmosphere at mach 25, no renders, raw footage,” the company posted on X alongside clips from reentry. Varda also shared a 28-minute video of W-1’s full journey home from LEO on YouTube.

Varda, which worked with Rocket Lab for the mission, is trying to develop mini-labs that can produce pharmaceuticals in orbit — in this case, the HIV drug ritonavir. Its W-1 capsule was attached to Rocket Lab’s Photon satellite “bus,” which the company said ahead of launch would provide power, communications and altitude control for the capsule. Photon successfully brought the capsule to where it needed to be for last week’s reentry, then itself burned up in Earth’s atmosphere, SpaceNews reported. Now that the capsule has returned, Ars Technica reports that the ritonavir crystals grown in orbit will be analyzed by the Indiana-based pharmaceutical company, Improved Pharma.