Space Startup Astra Signs First Commercial Launch Contract

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SEATTLE Reuters Billionairebacked space transport startup Astra, which aims to go public before July in a 2.1 billion blankcheck deal, has signed its first commercial launch contract with private imaging firm Planet, its chief executive told Reuters.

The Alameda, Californiabased company also said it would be able to lift satellites weighing up to 500 kilograms 1,100 pounds to lowEarth orbit before 2025, a tenfold leap in capacity from its current designs, aimed at winning business from forthcoming broadband megaconstellations like Amazon.com Incs Project Kuiper.

It was not immediately clear how the companys rocket designs were changing to increase payload capacity.

An announcement on the commercial contract and the rockets payload abilities was expected later on Wednesday.

We are committed to launching from anywhere on earth to anywhere in space, whenever our customers need us, Astra CEO Chris Kemp told Reuters ahead of the announcement.

Kemp declined to disclose the value of the multiplelaunch deal with Planet, but said Astra, which also has at least one government launch contract, has secured launch services revenue of roughly 150 million so far. Astras first Planet launch could happen as soon as next year.

Founded in 2016 in a garage, Astra inaugurated a headquarters and rocket factory near San Francisco in 2019, and has roughly 175 employees, Kemp said. It aims to begin launching rockets monthly next summer, though its rocket failed to reach orbit during a…

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