Astra to pause rocket launches until at least 2023 as quarterly losses and malfunction investigation continue

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

astra

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

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

Shares of Astra fell about 3% in after-hours trading from its close of $1.58, with the stock falling more than 80% in the past 12 months.

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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 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 move comes after the company’s June launch, featuring a Rocket 3.3 carrying a pair of satellites for NASA’s TROPICS-1 mission — the first of a series of three missions for the agency. But the TROPICS-1 mission failed mid-launch because the company was unable to put the satellites into orbit.

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The Federal Aviation Administration is leading the investigation into the TROPICS-1 failure along with Astra, with NASA putting the schedule on hold. The TROPICS-1 investigation is still ongoing, but Kemp said Thursday that NASA remains committed to carrying out 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 on hand and recently announced a $100 million equity facility through B. Riley Principal Capital.

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

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