Switch to new rocket amid losses, investigation

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


Small rocket maker Astra said on Thursday it would have no additional flights this year after the company reported another quarterly loss.

“The ability to begin commercial launches in 2023 will depend on the success of our test flights” for a new rocket system, Astra CEO Chris Kemp added during the company’s second-quarter conference call.

Shares of Astra have fallen 5% after hours trading from its close of $1.58 as the stock has fallen more than 80% in the past 12 months.

Astra said it is moving away from its Rocket 3.3 system earlier than expected and will now focus on the next version of its launcher. 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 change 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 in a series of three missions for the agency. But the TROPICS-1 mission failed mid-launch, with the company unable to deliver the satellites into orbit.

The Federal Aviation Administration is leading the investigation into the failure of TROPICS-1 alongside Astra, as NASA suspended the schedule. The TROPICS-1 investigation is still ongoing, but Kemp said Thursday NASA remains committed to flying the remaining two missions at an undetermined time.

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

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

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