WASHINGTON — Dwindling cash reserves caused launch vehicle and spacecraft propulsion company Astra Space to default on a loan at the end of October, adding to doubts about the company’s future.
In a filing with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission after the markets closed Nov. 3, Astra disclosed that it had triggered a default on a $12.5 million loan it secured in August from an unnamed institutional investor when its cash on hand fell below minimums required by the loan agreement.
According to the filing, that loan required the company to have at least $15 million of cash and cash equivalents or else be in default of the agreement, but fell below that threshold on Oct. 11. The investor agreed to waive the default provide the company kept at least $10.5 million in cash and cash equivalents on hand and made a $2.1 million payment. The interest rate on the loan also went from 9% to 15%.
However, Astra said it fell below that lower cash threshold on Oct. 30, which led to a default. Astra paid the investor $3.1 million on Nov. 1. It did not disclose how much cash it had remaining but said $8 million remains on the loan with that investor.
Astra had been working to raise additional funding. The company said in a separate Oct. 23 SEC filing that it had signed a non-binding term sheet with JMCM Holdings LLC to be the lead investor in a loan of up to $25 million. The funds, Astra said, would be used to pay off the August loan and for “general corporate purposes.”
In the new SEC filing, Astra said it is in “continued discussions” with other investors about financing, but could not guarantee it could close any deal, or that the terms of any funding would be the same as what it disclosed in October.
In an Aug. 14 earnings call, Astra executives said they were working to identify strategic investors for both its Astra Spacecraft Engines spacecraft propulsion business as well as its Rocket 4 launch vehicle in development. The company had laid off a quarter of its workforce between the beginning of July and early August and shifted others from rocket to satellite propulsion work, delaying work on Rocket 4.
In that call, the company projected having $15 million to $20 million of cash on hand by the end of the third quarter Sept. 30. Company executives said both the August loan and a planned “at-the-market” sale of stock would help buy the company time to secure a strategic investment.
Shares in Astra fell nearly 19% in aftermarket trading Nov. 3. The company performed a 1-for-15 reverse stock split in September to get the company’s shares above a $1 threshold required by Nasdaq, but those shares have since fallen back below $1.
Astra is scheduled to release its third quarter financial results and hold an earnings call after the markets close Nov. 13.