Switch to new rocket amid losses, investigation

The company’s LV0010 rocket stands on a launch pad at Florida’s Cape Canaveral ahead of NASA’s TROPICS-1 mission.


Small rocket maker Astra Thursday said the airline will have no more flights this year after the company reported another quarterly loss.

“Whether we can start commercial launch in 2023 will depend on the success of our test flights” for a new rocket system, Astra CEO Chris Kemp said. added during the company’s second-quarter conference call.

Shares of Astra are down about 3% in a few hours of trading from a close of $1.58, with shares down more than 80% in the past 12 months.

Astra said it is leaving the Rocket 3.3 system earlier than expected and will now focus on the next version of the launch vehicle. The upgraded system, called Rocket 4.0, is more powerful and more expensive, with a price tag of up to $5 million per launch.

The transition comes after the company launched in June, with a 3.3 rocket carrying a pair of satellites for NASA’s TROPICS-1 mission – the first of the agency’s trio of missions. But TROPICS-1 mission fails on mid-launchwith the company not being able to put the satellite into orbit.

The Federal Aviation Administration is leading the investigation into the TROPICS-1 incident along with Astra, while NASA has postponed the schedule. The investigation of TROPICS-1 is still ongoing, but Kemp on Thursday said NASA remains committed to the remaining two missions at an unspecified time.

For the three months ended June 30, Astra reported an adjusted EBITDA loss of $48.4 million, on revenue of $2.7 million. The company has $200.7 million in cash and recently announced a $100 million equity base through B. Riley Principal Capital.

The company emphasizes that its product line goes beyond rockets, with Astra saying it has 103 orders for its spacecraft engines.

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