A close-up of the Rocket 3.2 engines shortly after takeoff.
Astra / John Kraus
The San Francisco-based startup Astra will be the next publicly traded space asset and the first to be dedicated to launching orbital rockets.
Astra announced Monday on CNBC's Squawk Box that the company was merging with acquisition firm 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 of this year.
"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," Astra CEO Chris Kemp told CNBC. "So we're really focused on building a much smaller rocket 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% in premarket trading from its previous closing price of $ 10.33.
Rocket 3.2 launches in Kodiak, Alaska.
Astra / John Kraus
The rocket startup was the youngest private company to hit space in December after launching its Rocket 3.2 vehicle from Kodiak, Alaska. Although the rocket was about to enter orbit, Astra CEO Chris Kemp told reporters that the mission "far exceeded our team's expectations."
Astra was founded over four years ago in October 2016. Headquartered in Alameda, California, Astra raised approximately $ 100 million from investors including Advance (the investment arm of the late billionaire SI Newhouse's family), ACME Capital, prior to the SPAC deal. Airbus Ventures, Canaan Partners and Salesforce founder Marc Benioff.
"The exciting thing about this deal is the speed at which we can bring the company. We have just reached our first orbit," Kemp told CNBC. "It was the fastest way for us to not only raise more than half a billion dollars in capital, but also 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 because of the increasing 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 able to put 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 starting income of $ 150 million.
The company expects to begin commercial service for its missile business this summer. The monthly launches are expected to begin in late 2021. Astra intends to launch missiles daily through 2025.
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