Area firm Astra ASTR begins buying and selling on Nasdaq

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

Astra / John Kraus

The shares of rocket maker Astra Space began 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 slipped shortly after trading opened, but rebounded, rising 8% from its previous closing price of $ 12.35 per share.

Completion of the merger with Holicity will bring Astra approximately $ 500 million in new capital, which the company plans to use to expand production of its small rockets, expand its Alameda, Calif. Facilities, and grow its spacecraft and aerospace 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.

Maturation of the company

Since making the decision to go public, Astra has made significant headcounts and added new leadership roles from Apple, Tesla, Blue Origin and others.

“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 serving as Amazon’s chief 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 increase it. 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”.

competition

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.”

Additionally, Brannon emphasized that Astra’s focus on simplicity and manufacturability gives the company an edge over its competitors.

“The way we got into space three years faster than anyone else was by iterating,” said Brannon. “You bring more into space, you learn more.”

Become a smarter investor with CNBC Pro.
Get stock picks, analyst calls, exclusive interviews and access to CNBC TV.
Sign in to get started Try it for free today.

Comments are closed.