Astra announced on Monday that it is merging with special purpose acquisition company Holicity (currently trades under the ticker HOL) to go public in a deal that values the rocket company at a $2.1 billion value and will list on the Nasdaq under symbol ASTR in the second quarter of 2021. The deal is expected to provide Astra with up to $500 million in cash proceeds, including $200 million in a PIPE round led by BlackRock.
“We’re seeing hundreds of companies that want to get from anywhere on Earth to anywhere in space on their schedule — not wait years to get a lot of things to one place,” Astra CEO Chris Kemp said. “So we’re really focused on building a much smaller rocket, produced in much higher volume, launched from a much larger number of locations.”
Astra launched its Rocket 3.2 vehicle from Kodiak, Alaska in December that reached space (it came just shy of orbit). Kemp told reporters that the mission “far exceeded our team’s expectations.”
The rocket stands about 40 feet tall. The need for small rockets, like this on, has increased because the number of small satellites and spacecraft (the size of a mailbox or washing machine) that needs rides to space has increased. Astra’s rocket is advertised as capable of carrying up to 100 kilograms to low Earth orbit, for as little as $2.5 million for a dedicated launch.
Astra has raised about $100 million from previous investors including Advance (the investment arm of the family of the late billionaire S.I. Newhouse), ACME Capital, Airbus Ventures, Canaan Partners and Salesforce founder Marc Benioff.
“What’s exciting about this transaction is the speed with which we’re able to bring the company; we just achieved our first orbital capability,” Kemp said. “This was the fastest way for us to not only raise over half a billion dollars of capital but also reach public markets.”
With over 50 launches upcoming with 10 different corporate and government customers (NASA and the Pentagon among them) and $150 million of booked launch revenue under contract this looks like a hot ticket item.