Unedited, raw footage shows spacecraft ripping through the atmosphere at mach 25

  • The Varda Space Industries W-1 spacecraft filmed the entire re-entry to earth’s atmosphere
  • During that time, it reached speeds of mach 25
  • That’s almost 20,000 miles-per-hour

Published on Mar 01, 2024 at 2:53 PM (UTC+4)
by Tom Wood

Last updated on Mar 01, 2024 at 6:21 PM (UTC+4)
Edited by Alessandro Renesis

This piece of footage shows the re-entry of a spacecraft into the Earth’s atmosphere at mach 25.

In miles-per-hour, it’s not far off 20,000.

Of course, the spacecraft doesn’t go at that speed for the whole time, as it gently touched down onto the sand in Utah after deploying a parachute.

But, before that, it was hurtling through space at mach 25 in a hale of fire and light, making a final descent at the end of a successful mission.

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The W-1 spacecraft was sent up by Varda Space Industries and was returning back to home after a few months out there in the darkness of space.

Luckily for those of us who don’t fancy going up into the black unknown, the entirety of the W-1 returning to space was filmed and then shared unedited for us to see.

It makes for fascinating viewing, that’s for certain.

The capsule itself separated from the satellite that it had been orbiting with since June 2023, before then moving into position for re-entry into earth’s atmosphere.

That’s the exciting bit, and it provides one hell of a light show.

As the 90-centimetre capsule comes back into the realms of our planet, flames and sparks fly as atmospheric friction occurs.

We’ve shared a five-minute cutdown of the re-entry above, but there’s a full 27 minute version online if you want – and have the time – to see the whole thing.

It’s definitely interesting enough to spend half an hour with because, after all, it’s not every day you see something travelling as fast as mach 25.

The W-1 came back down to earth with a gentle bump on February 21, touching down at the Utah Test and Training range, which is where the NASA OSIRIS-REx craft also touched down last year.

Whilst that craft was carrying samples from an asteroid – the first US mission to ever collect such samples – this Varda spacecraft was carrying a vastly different cargo – pharmaceutical drugs.

They wanted to test out the production of drugs in microgravity, and used the capsule to create crystals of the antiretroviral drug Ritonavir, which can be used to treat HIV, amongst other things.

Whilst in space, the Varda W-1 was on the Rocket Labs Photon spacecraft, which provided for the capsule in orbit since last June.

Now, the capsule has been sent to California, where the data from re-entry will be given to the US Air Force and NASA for study.

The sample drugs that were created will be sent to the lab at Improved Pharma for analysis.

Then, hopefully there will be more interesting results to announce.

We’ll just have to wait and see.

# Tags - Space


Tom Wood

Tom started his journalism career soon after completing a Masters degree at the University of Salford. Since then, he’s covered a bit of everything – sport, celebrity and world news.