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Space SPAC Index – BlackSky Books Electron Launches, Virgin Galactic Tourism Flight Looms

By Doug Messier
Parabolic Arc
August 9, 2023
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Space SPAC Index – BlackSky Books Electron Launches, Virgin Galactic Tourism Flight Looms
Electron launches from New Zealand on July 17, 2023.
Image credit: Rocket Lab.

Welcome to S-SPACi! In this week’s edition, Rocket Lab announced a five-launch deal with BlackSky as it reported higher earnings, Virgin Galactic is on the eve of launching its first space tourists after lowering expectations on future earnings, Astra Space laid off a quarter of its employees as it pivoted to producing rocket engines, Planet Labs conducted layoffs of its own, and Momentus unveiled its first satellite bus.

BlackSky Books 5 Electron Launches

Geospatial data company BlackSky (NYSE: BKSY) has booked five additional Electron launches from Rocket Lab (Nasdaq: RKLB). The bulk buy is in addition to the six launches Rocket Lab has already conducted for BlackSky. The next launch is scheduled for 2024 from Mahia, New Zealand.

BlackSky’s next-generation Gen-3 satellites are designed to produce images with up to 35-centimeter resolution. The satellites will extend BlackSky’s ability to provide real-time insights to its customers in a broad set of conditions, including nighttime, low light, and challenging weather.

Space SPAC Index
August 9, 2023

CompanyFirst Trading DayOpening Share PriceHighClosing Price
Astra Space (Nasdaq: ASTR)July 1, 2021$12.30$16.95 (7/2/21)$0.31
AST SpaceMobile (Nasdaq: ASTS)April 7, 2021$11.63$15.48 (6/30/21)$4.44 (NYSE: BBAI)Dec. 8, 2021$9.84$16.12 (4/6/22)$1.59
BlackSky (NYSE: BKSY)Sept. 10, 2021$11.80$13.20 (9/16/21)$1.69
Intuitive Machines (Nasdaq: LUNR)Feb. 14, 2023$10.00$136.00 (2/20/23)$9.14
Momentus (Nasdaq: MNTS)Aug. 13, 2021$10.8512.87 (9/7/21)$0.37
Planet Labs (NYSE: PL)Dec. 8, 2021$11.25$11.65 (12/8/21)$3.41
Redwire (NYSE: RDW)Sept. 3, 2021$10.70$16.98 (10/25/21)$3.39
Rocket Lab (Nasdaq: RKLB)Aug. 25, 2021$11.58$21.34 (9/9/21) $6.45
Satellogic (Nasdaq: SATL)Jan. 26, 2022$9.19$10.92 (5/4/22) $1.78
Satixfy (NYSE AMERICAN: SATX)Oct. 28, 2022$8.29$51.70
Spire (NYSE: SPIR)Aug. 17, 2021$10.25 $19.50 (9/22/21)$0.67
Terran Orbital (NYSE: LLAP)March 28, 2022$12.69$12.69 (3/28/22) $1.19
Virgin Galactic (NYSE: SPCE)Oct. 28, 2019$11.79$62.80 (2/4/21)$3.38
Stock Price Source: Google Finance.

Rocket Lab reports quarterly earnings

Rocket Lab (Nasdaq: RKLB) reported $62 million in revenue for the second quarter, an increase from $55.5 million during the same period of 2022. Revenue for the first six months of this year was $116.9 million, an increase from the $96.2 million reported last year.

Rocket Lab’s net loss for the second quarter was $45.9 million, an increase from $37.4 million during the second quarter of 2022. The company’s net loss for the first half of the year increased from $64.1 million in 2022 to $91.5 million this year.

Rocket Lab had $197.2 million in cash and cash equivalents on June 30, 2023. The company also had $144 million in marketable securities at the end of the second quarter.

The company said it expects revenues of $73 million to $77 million in the third quarter.

Galactic 02 suborbital passengers
Passengers on the Galactic 02 suborbital flight.

Virgin Galactic preps for tourism flight

Virgin Galactic (NYSE: SPCE) will fly a mother-daughter team from the Caribbean and an 80-year-old former Olympian aboard SpaceShipTwo VSS Unity on Thursday, August 8. It will be the company’s second commercial flight and the first with space tourists.

The company will webcast the flight beginning at 11:00 AM EDT (15:00 UTC). Look for coverage of the flight on SpaceRef.

Keisha Schahaff and her daughter, Anastatia Mayers, won their tickets in a raffle sponsored by Space for Humanity. Schahaff, 46, is a health and wellness coach from Antigua and Barbuda. Mayers, 18, is a second-year student studying physics and philosophy at the University of Aberdeen in Scotland. They will be the first mother-daughter duo to fly on a spacecraft. Space for Humanity was founded by Dylan Taylor, who owns Parabolic Arc as part of Multiverse Media.

Joining them is Jon Goodwin, 80, who will be the first former Olympian to fly on a spacecraft. The British adventurer competed in the two-man slalom canoeing competition at the 1972 Olympics in Munich, Germany. He will be the second person with Parkinson’s disease to fly to space.

Virgin Galactic Chief Astronaut Instructor Beth Moses will join the space tourists in the cabin.

VSS Unity fires its engine
VSS Unity fires its engines during the Galactic 01 flight. Image credit: Virgin Galactic.

Virgin Galactic reports higher revenue

Virgin Galactic (NYSE: SPCE) reported revenue of $1.87 million for the second quarter, an increase from the $357,000 reported during the same period in 2022. Revenue for the first six months increased from $676,000 in 2022 to $2.26 million during the first half of this year.

Virgin Galactic suffered a net loss of $134 million during the second quarter, an increase over the $111 million net loss in the second quarter of 2022. Officials said the loss was “primarily driven by an increase in research and development expenses related to the development of the future fleet.” Virgin Orbit is developing a new class of SpaceShipTwo vehicles and WhiteKnightTwo carrier aircraft.

Virgin Galactic reported $358.3 million in cash and cash equivalents and $581.9 million in short-term marketable securities as of June 30, 2023.

Virgin Galactic conducted its first commercial flight on June 29 when it flew three Italian researchers to the edge of space. The company charges $600,000 per seat for research missions.

Astra Space's Spacecraft Propulsion Kit
Spacecraft Propulsion Kit. Image credit: Astra Space.

Astra Pivots Amid Layoffs

Struggling launch provider Astra (Nasdaq: ASTR) has laid off 25 percent of its workforce (around 70 employees) and pivoted 50 staff members to building rocket engines. Earlier this year, the company said it had 278 orders for its Astra Spacecraft Engine, which is designed for use on small satellites. The reallocation of resources means the first flight of the company’s Rocket 4 booster, which had been planned this year, has slipped to 2024.

Astra announced it raised $10.8 million in net proceeds from selling debt to High Trail Capital. The company has been facing dwindling cash reserves and the threat of being delisted from the Nasdaq stock exchange.

Planet Lays off 10 Percent of Workforce

Planet (NYSE: PL) has laid off 10 percent of its workforce (117 employees). In a note posted on the company’s blog, CEO Will Marshall wrote:

While Planet has always operated with a lean mentality, we transitioned into a new operating mode when we went public 18 months ago. This included building out teams that had been historically understaffed and taking on a range of new projects to expand our market opportunity. 

Our business has scaled rapidly and continues to grow apace, but the expansion of projects has also increased cost and complexity, which slowed us down in some regards. Simultaneously, the macroeconomic environment has changed. For both of these reasons, we are making changes to prioritize our attention on the highest ROI opportunities for our business and mission, while reinforcing our path to profitability, consistent with what we shared on our prior earnings call. 

Vigoride orbital transfer vehicle. Image credit: Momentus
Vigoride orbital transfer vehicle. Image credit: Momentus.

Momentus Unveils Satellite Bus

Momentus (Nasdaq: MNTS) unveiled its first satellite bus, M-1000, during the Small Satellite Conference in Logan, Utah. The bus is based on the company’s Vigoride orbital transfer vehicle, which is used to deploy satellites during rideshare missions. Momentus said the low-cost bus offers up to up to 3 kW of peak power, a large payload capacity, and a flexible configuration. Momentus submitted a proposal to the US Space Development Agency to produce 50 satellites using the M-1000 satellite bus for the Tranche 2 Transport Layer Alpha program.

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