“2024’s Inaugural SPAC Failure in the Space Industry: Astra Takes the Title”

Astra Space, the launch company that went public in 2021 at a $2.1 billion valuation, is going private again after months of burning cash and failing to secure alternate investment. The deal is expected to close in the second quarter of 2024, at which time Astra will cease trading on the Nasdaq. In an investor presentation from February 2021, Astra touted a “mass produced portable launch system” that could launch from anywhere in the world. At the time Astra completed its SPAC merger it also acquired Apollo Fusion, an electric propulsion developer for spacecraft, with the aim of integrating those systems into an Astra satellite constellation. That constellation never came to fruition, however, and while the company did succeed in selling many Apollo Fusion propulsion systems it has struggled to turn that backlog into revenue.

Astra Space, the launch company that made headlines in 2021 by going public with a staggering $2.1 billion valuation, is now suddenly taking a step back and reverting to its private status. This decision comes after months of financial struggling and failed attempts to secure additional funding.

The company’s CEO, Chris Kemp, and CTO, Adam London, announced on Thursday that they will be purchasing the remaining Astra stock at a price of $0.50 per share. The transaction is expected to close in the second quarter of 2024, resulting in Astra being delisted from the Nasdaq stock exchange.

This is a dramatic turnaround for the company, which managed to raise almost $500 million from investors based on promises of a cost-efficient launch vehicle with the potential to carry out hundreds of missions annually. In a presentation to investors in February 2021, Astra boasted about its “mass produced portable launch system” that could launch from anywhere in the world, with plans for a bi-weekly launch schedule in 2024.

Unfortunately, these ambitious plans never came to fruition, despite Astra’s successful launch into orbit. The company faced numerous setbacks, including a concerning sideways launch incident in 2021 and multiple failed attempts at commercial launches over the years. Kemp’s theory that failure rates are less significant with more frequent launches may have also deterred potential clients.

As part of the company’s SPAC merger, Astra also acquired Apollo Fusion, an electric propulsion company, with the intention of integrating their technology into an Astra satellite network. However, this satellite constellation never materialized, and while Apollo Fusion propulsion systems were successfully sold, Astra struggled to convert their backlog into revenue.

This story will continue to evolve as more information becomes available.

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Kira Kim

Kira Kim is a science journalist with a background in biology and a passion for environmental issues. She is known for her clear and concise writing, as well as her ability to bring complex scientific concepts to life for a general audience.

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