Astra Space goes public with boost from tech titans

A California-based space venture called Astra marked its first day as a publicly traded company today, completing a financial transition in which Seattle-area telecom pioneer Craig McCaw played a key role.

Astra went public on Nasdaq by virtue of a transaction with Holicity  — a special-purpose acquisition company, or SPAC, that was headed by McCaw and headquartered in Kirkland, Wash. Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates provided financial backing for Holicity through a sponsoring fund called Pendrell Corp.

The Astra-Holicity business combination, first announced in February, was approved on June 30 by Holicity’s shareholders. The transaction valued Astra at more than $2 billion, and brought in about $500 million in cash proceeds that Astra will use to accelerate growth and develop its space services platform.

Nasdaq’s ticker symbol for Astra common stock is ASTR, and the symbol ASTRW is being used for Astra warrants.

By Alan Boyle

Mastermind of Cosmic Log, contributor to GeekWire and Universe Today, author of "The Case for Pluto: How a Little Planet Made a Big Difference," past president of the Council for the Advancement of Science Writing.

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