Rocket company Astra Space is going public via SPAC

Space investors, beware, because you will soon have a new toy to play with. The Special Acquisition Company Holicity is bringing Astra Space public on the Nasdaq, making it the first publicly-listed space rocket launcher company.

Key points

  • Astra Space is being taken public by Special Purpose Acquisition Company Holicity
  • The company will be valued at around $2.1 billion
  • Astra Space will trade on the Nasdaq under the ticker ASTR
  • The deal will make $500 million of cash to help the company accelerate its development
  • Astra Space already performed 3 launches, the third of which just failed to reach orbital velocity
  • The company plans to perform 300 launches a year by 2025, three times the number of total launched performed in 2020
  • They forecast a $1.5 billion revenue by 2025, from $4 million in 2021

 

Taking Astra space public

Holicity announced the deal on Tuesday, saying that they made the definitive decision to take Astra Space public. The SPAC-sponsored, reverse-merger IPO will take place in the second quarter of 2021. Once public, the company should have a valuation of around $2.1 billion. The company will be traded on the Nasdaq under the ticker “NASDAQ:ASTR”.

The merge with Holicity will allow Astra Space access to additional funds to finance their efforts to become a reliable space launcher for small satellites. Holicity communicated that with the addition of the cash they raised in their own IPO and the $200 million they hope to raise from private investments, Astra should arrive on public markets with around $500 million to play with.

“This transaction takes us a step closer to our mission of improving life on Earth from space by fully funding our plan to provide daily access to low Earth orbit from anywhere on the planet,” said Chris Kemp, Founder, Chairman, and CEO of Astra.

Following the transaction, the company will be led by Astra’s CEO and founder Chris Kemp. We can also expect Craig McCaw, chairman and CEO of Holicity, to join the board of directors. The transaction has yet to receive the final approval from Holicity’s shareholders.

 

Latest Astra Rocket Launch

The latest Astra Space rocket launch (source: Space News)

The progress of Astra Space in rocket launching

Founded in 2016, Astra is quite an interesting company, as they were the fastest to prove rocket launching capabilities. The most successful launch of the company took place in December, when Astra’s Rocket 3.2 took off from the Pacific Spaceport Complex in Kodiak, Alaska. It was the company’s third launch attempt. The first one happened in March and failed before the rocket could actually take off, due to a fuelling issue. The second one happened in September, where the rocket could not keep its course and drifted. This third time was more successful, with the rocket reaching the target altitude of 380 kilometers, but it just failed to reach orbital velocity, and thus fell back into orbit.

Following these three attempts – which all went better than the previous one – Astra is already working on its fourth launch, focusing on how to improve the vehicle’s performance. Their next mission should take place this summer. So far, the company has already 50 launches booked by future customers, which are worth a total of $150 million in future revenue. The company has around 120 employees.

Most of the raised capital will go towards completing their manufacturing facilities, and invest in the automation of the production, which should dramatically increase their launch dates. Overall, they plan to launch 300 times in 2025, which is three times the total number of orbital launches that took place in 2020. If everything goes according to plan, projections expect revenues to jump to $1.5 billion in 2025 from $4 million in 2021.

“This summer, we’ll deliver our first commercial payload, followed by beginning monthly launches later this year, and over the next 2-3 years we will dramatically increase our launch schedule with a goal of daily launches by 2025,” said Kemp.

 

First prototype of Astra Space rocket

The latest Astra Space rocket launch (source: SciNews)

Quick word about SpaceX’s first all civilian mission

While we are here, I thought it would be worth mentioning that SpaceX is planning to launch its first all civilian mission before the end of the year. The project is called Inspiration4 and will take billionaire Jared Isaacman and three others in earth’s orbit for two to four days, possibly more. The name of the vehicle is a cool one: Crew Dragon.

It is a funny story because SpaceX, in opposition to Blue Origin or Virgin Galactic, has never advertised itself as a tourism project. However, they have four more private missions than any other space company. The viability of the project holds in one question: can companies make prices drop to attract anyone other than the top 1% of the 1%?

 

SpaceX rocket launch

SpaceX rocket launch (source: ZME Science)

Sources:

Astra to Become the First Publicly Traded Space Launch Company on NASDAQ via Merger with Holicity, in the Financial Post

Another Space SPAC Is Coming: Astra, in the Motley Fool

Astra to go public through merger with SPAC, in Space News

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