July 14, 2024

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Astra inventory takes a wild ride after a missile launch

Astra (AST) He confirmed on Twitter that the rocket had reached orbit, but it was not immediately clear if its payload – a group of small satellites A variety of customers – Deploy it safely into orbit.

During the launch webcast, Astra’s product manager Carolina Grossman warned that the company wouldn’t know immediately if the satellites had been safely deployed, because the rocket was not in a position to send ground readings in the minutes after it reached orbit. .

After the launch, 30 minutes of silence passed. Astra shares lost more than 10% of their value, and trading was halted for a brief period.

But then came another update: “We can confirm the successful deployment of satellites to Spaceflight’s Astra-1 mission today,” the company wrote in Twitter. But the company’s stock did not immediately reverse. Twenty minutes after the success was confirmed, its share price remained down more than 3%.

This ordeal highlights how volatile investing in a rocket company can be — especially when they choose to launch a rocket during trading hours.

Astra in particular has been on a road trip in recent months. The company had five failures in trying to put a rocket into orbit before it First success in November 2021. This led to a massive increase in trading, raising the share price by more than 30%. But then, in February, she had another failure.

Now, the company’s stock is consistently below $4 per share, far from its all-time high of more than $16 per share.

Astra is one of dozens of companies that plan to use small, relatively lightweight rockets for frequent trips into space to shoot down satellites — not to be confused with the much larger rockets launched by Elon Musk’s SpaceX, or Jeff Bezos’s Blue Origin suborbital space tourism rocket. .

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Astra, Rocket Lab and California-based Virgin Orbit are among the only startups that have now proven their rockets can get the job done.

And all these companies now have Made public via SPAC, or “Special Purpose Acquisition Company”, which serve as placeholders for stock market investment where fund backers are looking for a takeover target. Next, the target company acquires the SPAC trading token, allowing it to announce little of the financial disclosure or scrutiny that comes with traditional IPOs.

This does not mean that Astra and the others cannot or will not succeed. But the company faces stiff competition.

When asked at a company that posted an online Q&A about how Astra plans to stand out in such a crowded industry, Adam London, Astra’s founder and chief technology officer, said, “Rockets are usually handmade things. You build one by one, and they Very complicated. But when you really get into it, they don’t need to be that complicated, especially when you’re not traveling with important national people or property, and they never, positively, have to work 100% of the time.”

In other words, Astra plans to mass-produce the missiles to make them cheaper, but it doesn’t focus too much on achieving an original success rate.

This means that its stock is likely to continue to be a wild ride for the foreseeable future.

That’s not necessarily a bad thing, said Micah Walter Runge, president of space consulting firm Caelus Partners.

“The stock fluctuations related to the launch of Astra can be taken as a positive sign as investors are monitoring the company’s progress and are actively involved in the space industry,” he said by email. “Market movements also indicate that this is still a nascent industry, and we are looking forward to the day when launches are presented in the same routine way as flights, with investors watching overall trends but not every individual flight.”

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