Astra to acquire electric in-space propulsion company Apollo Fusion

Astra, the space launch startup with plans to go public via a SPAC merger, will acquire electric propulsion maker Apollo Fusion, the company said Monday. Electric propulsion systems are effective at moving spacecraft from lower to higher orbits, even to the moon, Astra Chief Engineer Benjamin Lyon said in a blog post Monday, pointing to Astra’s plans beyond missions to Earth’s orbit.

Under the terms of the deal, Astra will buy Apollo for $30 million in stock and $20 million in cash, for a total purchase price of $50 million. There is also the potential for an additional earn-out of up to $95 million if Apollo hits certain performance benchmarks. PJT Partners is acting as financial advisor to Astra with regard to the transaction, the Alameda-based launch startup said Monday.

Astra CEO Chris Kemp has been forthright about his goal of making the company a vertically integrated launch and space services provider, and Apollo’s thruster technology is a major piece of that puzzle. Astra successfully launched its first test rocket from Kodiak, Alaska last December, but in public statements Kemp has indicated plans for monthly commercial launches.

Apollo produces two EP thruster systems, the Apollo Constellation Engine (ACE) and the ACE Max. Both are compatible with krypton or xenon propellants. The company said it had been selected by York Space Systems as the propulsion system provider for a LEO satellite constellation program that will be launched in 2022.

The transaction between Astra and Apollo will close after Astra’s merger with special purpose acquisition company Holicity is completed later this year. Kemp tweeted on Monday that the company intends to start trading on the Nasdaq under the ticker $ASTR on July 1.

The story has been updated to include Chris Kemp’s tweet.

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