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Space SPAC Index: BlackSky Files to Raise $200 Million, Virgin Orbit Preps for UK Launch & Signs Deal with Spire

By Doug Messier
Parabolic Arc
October 17, 2022
Using high-revisit satellite imagery, BlackSky’s Spectra AI has detected the utilization of major facilities at Tokyo’s Haneda Airport. Parking spaces shown in green are rarely used, while red indicates frequent occupancy. BlackSky customers can also understand inflow/outflow of cargo and monitor airline maintenance activity. (Photo: BlackSky)

Welcome to the second Space SPAC index chronicling the progress of space companies that went public by merging with special purchase acquisition companies. In this edition, news about BlackSky, Virgin Orbit, Spire Global, Planet Labs, Virgin Galactic and Rocket Lab.

BlackSky Files to Raise $200 Million

BlackSky, a leading provider of real-time geospatial intelligence, filed on Friday to raise an additional $200 million to fund expansion of its fleet of satellites.

Our next generation satellites (“Gen-3″), expected to be operational starting in 2023, are designed to improve our imaging resolution even further and include advanced sensing technology for a broad set of imaging conditions, including nighttime, low-light, and a variety of weather conditions. We believe these advancements will expand the diversity and certainty of our analytics to continue to ensure our relevance to our customers. We believe the combination of our high-revisit, on-demand tasking small satellite constellation, our Spectra AI platform, and low constellation cost is disrupting the market for geospatial imagery and space-based data and analytics,” the company said in its filing.

“Our operating strategy is to continue to enhance the capabilities of our satellite constellation, to increase the number of third-party data sources processed by Spectra AI, and to expand our analytics offerings in order to increase the value we deliver to our customers. Our two operating assets-our satellite constellation and our Spectra AI software platform-are mutually reinforcing: as we capture ever more information about the world’s most important strategic and economic assets and locations, our proprietary database expands and increases its utility; enabling us to better detect, understand, and predict changes that matter most to our customers. Our business has a natural and powerful “flywheel” effect: the more data we collect and analyze, the more valuable the insights we can deliver to our customers.

BlackSky’s Securities and Exchange Commission filing said the raise would come through sale of Class A common stock, preferred stock, debt securities, depositary shares, warrants, subscription rights, purchase contracts and units.

LauncherOne in a stormy Mojave before being transported to Spaceport Cornwall in England. (Credit: Virgin Orbit)

Virgin Orbit Prepares for Cornwall Launch, Signs Deal with Spire Global

Virgin Orbit’s Cosmic Girl Boeing 747 and a LauncherOne rocket have arrived at Spaceport Cornwall in England in advance of the first orbital launch from the United Kingdom. The company has not yet announced a date for the flight, which requires a launch license from the UK government.

LauncherOne arrived in Cornwall aboard a Royal Air Force C-17 cargo plane. Virgin Orbit has purchased two additional Boeing 747s, one to carry LauncherOne boosters and cargo to spaceports and the other to air launch them. These aircraft are currently undergoing renovations.

Cosmic Girl is based at the Mojave Air and Space Port in California. In addition to Cornwall, the company has agreements to launch from airports in Brazil, Japan, Australia and the U.S. territory of Guam.

Spire Global Signs with Virgin Orbit

Virgin Orbit and Spire Global have signed a binding Launch Service Agreement for multiple launches over several years. The first launch is expected to take place in 2023. Terms of the deal and the number of launches were not disclosed.

Virgin Orbit launched Spire’s ADLER-1 satellite in January 2022. It took only 22 days from Spire booking the launch to payload integration.

“Working with Virgin Orbit gives us flexibility and control over launches, rather than waiting for the secondary rideshare market to provide the orbits we want on timelines that we have to work with,” said Robert Sproles, Spire’s vice president of constellation planning and operations. “It’s particularly crucial for offering our Space Services customers rapid and reliable access to space so that they can meet their mission-critical deadlines.”

Space SPAC Companies

CompanyFirst Trading DayOpening Share PriceHighCurrent Price
Arqit (NAS: ARQQ)Sept. 7, 2021$9.25$41.52 (9/23/21) $4.48
Astra Space (NAS: ASTR)July 1, 2021$12.30$16.95 (7/2/21)$0.56
AST SpaceMobile (NAS: ASTS)April 7, 2021$11.63$15.48 (6/30/21)$7.57
BlackSky (NYS: BKSY)Sept. 10, 2021$11.80$13.20 (9/16/21)1.55
Momentus (NAS: MNTS)Aug. 13, 2021$10.8512.87 (9/7/21)$1.13
Planet Labs (NYS: PL)Dec. 8, 2021$11.25$11.65 (12/8/21)$5.01
Redwire (NYS: RDW)Sept. 3, 2021$10.70$16.98 (10/25/21)$2.49
Rocket Lab (NAS: RKLB)
Aug. 25, 2021$11.58$21.34 (9/9/21) $4.19
Satellogic (NAS: SATL)Jan. 26, 2022$9.19$10.92 (5/4/22) $4.99
Spire (NYS: SPIR)Aug. 17, 2021$10.25 $19.50 (9/22/21)$1.18
Terran Orbital (NYS: LLAP)March 28, 2022$12.69$12.69 (3/28/22) $2.26
Virgin Galactic (NYS: SPCE)Oct. 28, 2019$11.79$62.80 (2/4/21)$4.70
Virgin Orbit (NAS: VORB)Dec. 30, 2021$8.525$11.28 (1/11/22)$2.86
Stock Price Source: Yahoo Finance

Other Space SPAC News

NASA has exercised an option that extends its contract with Planet Labs under the Commercial SmallSat Data Acquisition (CSDA) Program through September 2023. Planet has been providing data to NASA scientists and federal civilian agency funded researchers under this program since 2018.

NASA’ Jet Propulsion Laboratory has selected Rocket Lab to supply solar panels that will power NASA’s shoe-box-sized mobile robots as part of the Cooperative Autonomous Distributed Robotic Explorers (CADRE) program. 

Virgin Galactic’s YouTube video about its recent “Space for the Curious” retreat for ticket holders in Wyoming has been getting negative reviews from shareholders angry about why it was the company’s “biggest event of the year” rather than flying people to space. Investors are angry about repeated delays and a sharp decline in the share price. Virgin Galactic will on its third quarter results on Nov. 3.

Jack Raines explains why SPAC king Chamath Palihapitiya, who took Virgin Galactic public, is not the next Warren Buffett.

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