A close-up of the Rocket 3.2 engines shortly after takeoff.
Astra / John Kraus
Missile Builder’s Shares Astra room started trading on Nasdaq on Wednesday as it was the newest space company to go public following a SPAC deal.
Astra trades under the ticker ASTR, with the shares previously listed under the special-purpose vehicle, Holicity.
“Now we have a space company that anyone in the public markets can invest in,” Astra CEO Chris Kemp told CNBC. “The same things you do to make a rocket great are the same behaviors you have to invest in to make a company great. You don’t want inefficiencies.”
The stock lost 4% in early trading, from its previous closing price of $ 12.35 per share.
Completion of the merger with Holicity brings Astra approximately $ 500 million in new capital the company plans to expand production of its small rockets, expand its facilities in Alameda, California, and is expanding its spacecraft and spaceport businesses. Astra’s goal is to launch as many of its 12-meter-tall rockets as possible to launch one rocket a day by 2025, bringing the $ 2.5 million price tag even lower.
“We spent almost more time building the team in the last six months than we did in this transaction because we knew that day was coming,” said Kemp.
Astra CFO Kelyn Brannon, who joined the company in December, has a background from a variety of Silicon Valley companies including as Amazons Accounting officer in the late 1990s.
“Astra is reminding me of my time at Amazon,” Brannon told CNBC. “I remember standing there and talking to [founder Jeff] He and Bezos bought every server known to mankind and built these huge data centers. “
“We want to be the AWS of space,” added Brannon.
Missile 3.2 launches from Kodiak, Alaska.
Astra / John Kraus
The company’s last launch in December made it into space, but the Rocket 3.2 vehicle barely made it into orbit. However, the mission gave the Astra leadership the confidence that the next launch, Rocket 3.3, can carry paying customers. Kemp said Rocket 3.3 is currently in testing, with the company remaining on track to launch the mission “this summer.”
Astra plans to manufacture a dozen Rocket 3-series vehicles, with the next currently in production.
“We’re going to start rolling these things off the production line every month,” said Kemp. “Our goal is to achieve a monthly cadence by the end of the year and then really just ramp it up. We have 15 starts planned for 2022.”
Astra is currently launching from Kodiak, Alaska, but the company has identified additional spaceports for launches. With a system that only requires a few people to get started, Kemp emphasized that Astra does not want to be “locked in one place”.
While several other space companies are going public via SPACs and despite Astra’s competitors like Rocket Lab or Virgin Orbit in the private rocket launch market, Kemp sees the dynamism and growth of the industry as a positive sign for the future of his company.
“I think the competition is great,” said Kemp. “Our sphere is trying to achieve a whole new economy in low earth orbit, and it should improve life on earth.”
In addition, Brannon emphasized that Astra’s focus on simplicity and manufacturability gives the company an edge over its competitors.
“We got into space three years faster than anyone else because we iterated,” said Brannon. “You bring more into space, you learn more.”