The Daily Dish (2/2/21)

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Rocket startup Astra to go public through $2.1 billion blank-check deal

Astra 3.1 rocket launch
  • Astra, a startup that makes small rockets to send satellites into orbit, is going public at a valuation of $2.1 billion through a deal with blank-check company Holicity Inc, the companies said on Tuesday. Astra manufactures its own rockets, which are designed to carry small orbital payloads, at a facility in Alameda, California. Thus far, it has then shipped its launch vehicles to Kodiak, Alaska for flight – requiring just a handful of people on the ground at the actual spaceport to mount and launch the rocket, with the majority of the team overseeing the flight operating remotely out of a mission control facility back in California.

  • The terms of the deal will result in an anticipated $500 million in cash for Astra, from a combined $300 million held by Holicity in trust and a $300 million injection via a PIPE (private investment in public equity) from funds under management by BlackRock. The arrangement sets a pro forma enterprise valuation of Astra at around $2.1 billion – that valuation of the company minus the $500 million in cash the SPAC merger brings in. Astra expects it to complete by the second quarter of this year, after which the company will trade under the ticker ‘ASTR.’

  • With its successful test in December, Astra achieved a pay-off of years of quiet work building and iterating its launch model. The startup was originally pursuing a DARPA-funded competition to achieve rapid response launch capabilities, but that contest expired with the prize unclaimed. Ultimately, Astra aims to be launching payloads on a daily cadency by 2025, and in a blog post accompanying the SPAC news, Astra founder and CEO Chris Kemp said that it’s also intent on “building a platform of space services” that implies ambitions beyond its work today on rockets.

United Wholesale Mortgage returns to Super Bowl

  • United Wholesale Mortgage, now a publicly traded company, will return to the Super Bowl this year.

    The wholesale lender will be running a new Super Bowl commercial spotlighting independent mortgage brokers and its website for a second straight year.


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