Astra completes SPAC merger and begins trading publicly

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WASHINGTON — Small launch vehicle company Astra will begin trading on the Nasdaq exchange July 1 after completing its merger with a special-purpose acquisition company (SPAC).

Astra said June 30 that shareholders of Holicity, a SPAC, had overwhelmingly approved the merger. The companies announced the deal in February, which would raise nearly $500 million in cash for Astra and turn it into a publicly traded company.

The merged company will now trade under the ticker symbol ASTR on the Nasdaq Global Select Market. Shares in Holicity closed at $12.35 per share June 30.

Holicity was established last year by Craig McCaw, a cellular industry pioneer best known in the space industry for co-founding Teledesic, a company that in the 1990s proposed to develop a constellation of broadband satellites. The company went out of business, though, in the early 2000s, having launched only a single technology demonstration satellite.

McCaw joins the board of Astra as part of the merger, as does Michael Lehman, former chief financial officer of Sun Microsystems.

“Becoming a public company is the next milestone in our mission to improve life on Earth from space,” Chris Kemp, chief executive of Astra, said in a statement about the closing of the merger with Holicity. “This will scale our business and make space more accessible.”

Astra will use the proceeds of the merger to scale up its business, starting with launches. The company last launched its Rocket 3 vehicle in December 2020, falling just short of reaching orbit on that test flight. The next launch is scheduled for later this summer, Kemp said in a recent interview, but the company has not disclosed a more specific date or identified the customer.

In a June 2023 webinar by IPO-Edge, Kelyn Brannon, Astra’s chief financial officer, said the company projected performing three launches this year, increasing to 15 in 2022 and as many as 300 in 2025.

Astra is also moving into the small satellite business, developing spacecraft custom-designed to launch on its rockets and carry a wide range of payloads for customers. Brannon said the company should start seeing revenues from that business line “in the back end of 2022.”

Supporting that space services business is Astra’s acquisition of Apollo Fusion, an electric propulsion company, announced June 7. Astra will use Apollo Fusion’s electric thrusters on its satellites, while continuing to offer the thrusters to other companies. Astra is acquiring Apollo Fusion for $50 million in cash and stock, with an additional $95 million in earn-out incentives.