Rocket Startup Astra Space Poised to Go Public at $2.1 Billion Valuation - The Wall Street Journal

Rocket Startup Astra Space Poised to Go Public at $2.1 Billion Valuation - The Wall Street Journal


Rocket Startup Astra Space Poised to Go Public at $2.1 Billion Valuation - The Wall Street Journal

Posted: 02 Feb 2021 03:30 AM PST

Northern California space-transportation company Astra Space Inc. intends to be the first maker of small rockets to go public in the U.S., using a blank-check company, or SPAC, in a transaction valuing it at $2.1 billion.

One of the few space startups with flight-proven technology, Astra said it is teaming up with billionaire telecommunications investor Craig McCaw to take advantage of the surging popularity of such transactions across an array of evolving high-technology sectors. SPAC stands for special-purpose acquisition company, a vehicle for swiftly taking entities public.

Alameda-based Astra, which has about 120 employees, late last year blasted a rocket to the edge of space from a launchpad in Kodiak, Alaska. The booster failed to reach orbit velocity during that demonstration flight in December. Company founder and Chief Executive Chris Kemp, a former high-ranking NASA official, said he expects another test soon, followed by an initial commercial mission as early as summer.

In going public, Astra seeks to stand out from a bevy of small-rocket competitors by locking in funding despite fallout from the coronavirus pandemic and an anticipated shakeout of rivals targeting the same market segment.

The company says it is able to lift satellites weighing about 100 pounds into low-earth orbit, but gradually hopes to increase that capacity about fivefold. Astra's move comes amid a boom in the use of relatively compact satellites for internet access, earth imaging, military applications and other purposes.

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