“This acquisition enables Astra to efficiently deliver and operate throughout our solar system, and brings incredible technology and talent into our team.
“So, what is this all really about? At Astra we’re focused on rapid and affordable access to space. This really requires two kinds of transportation: You always have to first fly from Earth to a low orbit on the edge of space, and Astra shines in getting you to the best possible low orbit for your mission. However, often you need to keep going — to fly higher in space for your operational mission. And this is where Apollo comes in.
“Let’s dig into this a bit. When flying from the ground to space, you need powerful, high-thrust engines to overcome gravity and push the vehicle with its payload through the atmosphere at an ever-increasing speed. This requires a LOT of thrust and consumes a huge amount of fuel – typically, 90% or more of the weight of a rocket ready to lift off is fuel. Once you get to space and are in a low orbit, the spacecraft is floating in zero gravity, so you can use very small forces to move around. This is analogous to a getting a boat into a lake – it’s very heavy to lift and carry it on the ground, but light paddling will move it easily once it’s in the water.
“This “paddling” is where electric propulsion (EP) systems come into play in space. Harnessing the power of the sun, they use electricity to accelerate a very small flow of inert gas to high speed, producing a constant, low thrust that is highly efficient. The high efficiency allows a spacecraft to slowly but continuously accelerate, which moves it to a higher and higher orbit. This makes EP an excellent solution for going from low earth orbits to medium, high, or geostationary orbits, and even to the moon or beyond!
“We chose Apollo Fusion because they had developed a leading EP system that is cost-effective and reliable, at scale. Apollo’s design cycles are measured in months, not years, and their solutions are both easy to manufacture and to assemble. They don’t see their job as done when they have something that initially works. Apollo continues to optimize for manufacturability and scalability.
“Astra has purposefully drawn its talent from beyond the aerospace industry, and bringing the best practices from tech, automotive, services and other industries has been a key element to our rapid progress to date. Apollo Founder and CEO, Mike Cassidy, shares the same belief in the value diverse skill sets bring. He has both the understanding and experience of how bring consumer technologies like high performance, low power processing to aerospace, with team members from companies such as SpaceX, Google, Tesla and Apple. Their deep expertise is important too: Apollo team members have contributed to over 2,000 satellites in orbit today. Their culture shares Astra’s focus on maximizing development velocity, designing for scale, and passion about the opportunity that space creates.
“We are delighted to welcome the Apollo Fusion team into the Astra team! I’m excited to see what we do together.
Original information in SatNews…
Apollo Fusion manufactures a leading electric propulsion engine. This acquisition allows Astra to provide launch and space services beyond LEO to MEO, GEO and lunar orbits.
Under the agreement, Astra is acquiring Apollo Fusion for a purchase price of $50 million: $30 million in stock and $20 million in cash. Additionally, there is potential for earn-outs of up to $95 million: $10 million in employee incentive stock, $10 million in cash for reaching technical milestones, and $75 million ($60 million in stock, $15 million in cash) for reaching revenue milestones. PJT Partners is acting as financial advisor to Astra in connection with this series of transactions.
“In addition to increasing Astra’s total addressable market for launch services, the acquisition of Apollo Fusion accelerates Astra’s ability to efficiently deliver and operate spacecraft beyond low Earth orbit,” said Astra Founder, Chairman, and CEO, Chris Kemp.
“Scale is what makes innovation matter,” said Reid Hoffman, partner at Greylock and lead investor in Apollo Fusion. “I’m excited that Apollo Fusion will be a key enabler of Astra’s hyperscale space platform.”
“Propulsion systems open new destinations,” said Apollo Fusion Founder and CEO, Mike Cassidy. “Our team is excited to combine the flexibility of in-space propulsion with the world’s most responsive launch provider.”
In addition to Cassidy, the acquisition brings a team with experience from companies such as Google, Tesla, and SpaceX, with individuals who have developed, designed and manufactured hardware flying on more than 2,000 satellites on-orbit today. This transaction will close after Astra’s business combination with Holicity (NASDAQ: HOL) is completed and is expected to be accretive to revenue starting this year.
Earlier this year, Astra and the Holicity Inc. (NASDAQ: HOL) SPAC announced a definitive business combination agreement that will result in Astra becoming a publicly traded company. The transaction reflects an implied pro-forma enterprise value for Astra of approximately $2.1 billion. Upon closing, the transaction is expected to provide up to $500 million in cash proceeds, including up to $300 million of cash held in the trust account of Holicity and an upsized $200 million PIPE led by funds and accounts managed by BlackRock.
“This transaction takes us a step closer to our mission of improving life on Earth from space by fully funding our plan to provide daily access to low Earth orbit from anywhere on the planet,” said Chris Kemp, Founder, Chairman and CEO of Astra.
“I have long believed space provides an unmatched opportunity to benefit and enrich society,” said Craig McCaw, Chairman and CEO of Holicity. “Astra’s space platform will further improve our communications, help us protect our planet, and unleash entrepreneurs to launch a new generation of services to enhance our lives.”
With more than 50 launches in manifest across more than 10 private and public customers, including NASA and DoD, Astra has booked over $150 million of contracted launch revenue. Astra will begin delivering customer payloads this summer and start monthly launches by the end of this year. Upon the closing of the transaction, the combined company will be named Astra and will be listed on NASDAQ under the symbol “ASTR.”