Categories
GeekWire

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.

Categories
GeekWire

Astra makes space deals as it gets set to go public

Astra, the California-based space startup that’s aiming to merge with a blank-check company founded by Seattle telecom pioneer Craig McCaw, has set a July 1 target date to go public on Nasdaq.

That’s the word from Chris Kemp, Astra’s founder, chairman and CEO. “We will start mailing proxy statements today for shareholders of $HOL to vote ahead of the shareholder meeting on 6/30,” Kemp said in a LinkedIn posting. $HOL is the symbol for Holicity, McCaw’s special purpose acquisition company in Kirkland, Wash.

The Astra-Holicity SPAC deal values Kemp’s company at $2.1 billion.

Astra’s Rocket 3.2 launch vehicle made it to space during a test launch from Alaska in December but narrowly missed reaching orbit. Since then, the company has been preparing for its next launch — and racking up business deals.

Last month, Astra announced an agreement to work on a multi-launch mission for Planet’s Earth observation satellites in 2022. And today, Astra said it would acquire Apollo Fusion in a transaction valued at up to $145 million. The deal is due to close after Astra goes public.

Categories
GeekWire

Telecom pioneer hitches up with rocket venture

Back in the 1990s, cellular telecom pioneer Craig McCaw bought into a vision of ubiquitous wireless service via a constellation of satellites, with an assist from Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates.

Almost a quarter-century later, McCaw’s Teledesic venture is long-dead, but the dream lives on — thanks to the impending merger of McCaw’s Holicity “blank check” company and Astra, one of the rising stars of the satellite launch industry.

The deal — which takes advantage of the trend toward using special purpose acquisition companies, or SPACs, to take startups public — values Astra at a double-unicorn level of $2.1 billion, and would unlock up to $500 million in cash proceeds.

Not bad for a space company that hasn’t yet quite made it to orbit.

Categories
GeekWire

Astra misses out on winning $2M from DARPA

Astra rocket on pad
Astra’s rocket stands on its launch pad on Alaska’s Kodiak Island. (DARPA via YouTube)

The once-stealthy California company known as Astra came within 53 seconds of sending up a rocket to try winning a $2 million prize in the DARPA Launch Challenge today, but ended up scrubbing the launch.

Get the news brief on GeekWire.

Categories
GeekWire

Astra chases DARPA Launch Challenge’s prize

Astra launch
Astra launches a test rocket from Pacific Spaceport Complex Alaska in Kodiak. (Astra Photo)

The DARPA Launch Challenge has begun, with a once-stealthy space startup called Astra aiming to launch two rockets from an Alaska spaceport within the next month and a half to win a $10 million grand prize.

The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency set up the challenge in 2018 to serve as an added incentive for private-sector development of a highly mobile launch system that the military could use.

At first, DARPA specified that two orbital launches would have to be executed over the course of two weeks from completely separate launch sites in order to win the top prize. However, program manager Todd Master said the plan was changed for logistical and regulatory reasons. Dealing with all the hassles associated with launches from widely separated sites “wasn’t really our goal in solving the challenge,” Master told reporters today during a teleconference.

Get the full story on GeekWire.