Happy Q4–and fiscal year 2023–to those who celebrate, and welcome back to another episode of Pathfinder. Today we’re back on the rocket beat and we’ll get a much-needed company update from Astra ($ASTR) CEO Chris Kemp. Today’s episode is brought to you by SpiderOak Mission Systems. Take the Payload/SpiderOak survey and contribute to the future of space security: https://tinyurl.com/3awsufd9
Astra’s first launch of NASA’s TROPICS satellites ended in failure this summer. Shortly thereafter, Astra scrapped all flights for 2022 and accelerated its pivot to a larger, more capable launcher. As it moves customer payloads to the Rocket 4.0 manifest, Astra says it will launch scientific spacecraft for NASA that are comparable to TROPICS payloads.
All the while, shares of Astra have been in free-fall: $ASTR is -90% YTD. Chris still sounded a confident tone, saying the company has the cash to get to Rocket 4.0. Plus, “we have a tremendous number of assets sitting behind me that we’ve been using our balance sheet to fund,” Chris told us.
0:00 – Intro
5:40 – Astra’s garage origins and what’s changed in the last five years
9:43 – Falcon 9 → Falcon 9 …. and how Astra is responding to market demand in launch
12:40 – What’s the delta in “the three Cs” as Astra moves from 3.0 to 4.0?
16:39 – Chris dives into what’s needed for launching 4.0
19:10 – How has Astra’s willingness to fail early and iterate helped them get to where they are today?
26:10 – An evolving approach to manufacturing, production, and launch operations
28:18 – The customer profile and civil, commercial, and military space split for Rocket 4.0
31:47 – Take the Payload/SpiderOak space cyber survey
33:38 – IR with institutions and retail investors
37:46 – Ryan shares a Payload reader’s question (and concerns) about Astra’s future
40:27 – Could a sale be in the cards?
44:32 – Where will Astra be 12 months from now?
49:43 – Hottest take, or most contrarian view, on space