September 25, 2023

A close-up of the Rocket 3.2’s engines shortly after takeoff.

Astra / John Kraus

San Francisco-based start-up Astra will be the next publicly traded space asset and the first dedicated to launching orbital rockets.

Astra announced Monday on CNBC’s “Squawk Box” that the company was merging with special purpose vehicle company Holicity to go public and value the rocket company with an enterprise value of $ 2.1 billion. Astra will be listed on the Nasdaq under the ticker symbol ASTR when the deal closes, which is expected in the second quarter.

“We’re seeing hundreds of companies wanting to get from anywhere on earth to anywhere in space on their schedule – rather than having to wait years to get many things in one place,” said Chris Kemp, CEO of Astra. “So we’re really focused on building a much smaller missile that is manufactured in much larger volume and launched from a much larger number of locations.”

Holicity’s SPAC is currently trading under the ticker HOL. The deal is expected to generate up to $ 500 million in cash for Astra, including $ 200 million in a BlackRock-led PIPE round.

Holicity SPAC’s shares were up more than 75% on Tuesday, prior to the market’s close of $ 10.33.

Rocket 3.2 launches in Kodiak, Alaska.

Astra / John Kraus

The December rocket launch was the youngest private company to reach space after launching its Rocket 3.2 vehicle from Kodiak, Alaska. Though the rocket was only just about to enter orbit, Kemp told reporters that the mission “far exceeded our team’s expectations.”

Astra was founded in October 2016. Prior to the SPAC deal, around $ 100 million was raised from investors including Advance (the investment arm of the late billionaire SI Newhouse’s family), ACME Capital, Airbus Ventures, Canaan Partners and Salesforce founder Marc Benioff.

“The exciting thing about this transaction is the speed at which we can bring the company. We have just reached our first orbit,” said Kemp. “It was the quickest way for us not only to raise more than half a billion dollars in capital, but also to reach the public markets.”

The company’s missile is about 40 feet tall, making it a small launch vehicle category. These small rockets have become increasingly popular due to the increase in the number of small satellites and spacecraft, often the size of a mailbox or washing machine, in search of trips into orbit. Astra’s rocket is said to be capable of putting up to 100 kilograms into low-earth orbit for just $ 2.5 million for a special launch.

Astra claims to have over 50 launches in its manifest, spanning 10 corporate and government customers, including NASA and the Pentagon. The contractually agreed startup revenue of $ 150 million.

The company expects the missile operations to begin commercial service this summer. The monthly launches are expected to begin by the end of the year. Astra aims to launch rockets every day until 2025.

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