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Markets: Richard Branson Sells $300M Of Virgin Galactic Stock

It appears that shortly after a successful trip to the edges of outer space, Virgin Galactic founder Richard Branson is continuing to have more fun on earth by selling shares of his aerospace company. He just converted a large chunk of his shares into cash, possibly to finance his many other ventures or maybe just chill on a boat.  Branson sold roughly $300mn worth of Virgin Galactic stock from Tuesday, the 10th of August, to Thursday the 12th, a filing with the SEC shows. He sold in 11 successive blocks ranging from $25mn to $34mn each.  The shares Branson sold represented 4% of Virgin Galactic's market cap and reduced his stake through a firm he controls (Virgin Investments) to 18% . Before now, Branson's last major stock sale was $150mn  worth of shares that he offloaded this April and before that a $505mn sale in May 2020. Branson took Virgin Galactic public through a SPAC merger in 2019, raising needed money to fund its expensive space tourism R&D. The company re

SPAC: SEC Charges Stable Road, Momentus Over False Claims

In one of the first such cases of the US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) formally pressing charges on a special-purpose acquisition company (SPAC), the agency opened a case against Stable Road Acquisition Company , a SPAC, and   Momentus , a spaceflight startup that is its merger target. The SEC on Monday announced charges against Stable Road and Momentus and the firms' respective CEOs for making misleading claims to investors about Momentus' technology and national security concerns surrounding  Mikhail Kokorich , the Russian founder and CEO of the space company. Last October, Momentus agreed to merge with Stable Road to become a public company. The merger terms valued Momentus at $1.2bn (later halved ), despite the company being in the pre-revenue stage. As usual with SPACs, the pitch given to investors was ambitious and overtly promising, with Momentus claiming it had “successfully tested” its spacecraft propulsion technology. But, the SEC said not so fast, objec

Markets: Virgin Galactic Files To Raise $500M, Shares Dive

Just after Virgin Galactic , the aerospace company of fun-having entrepreneur Richard Branson, made space tourism history by sending Branson along with a group of acquaintances to the edges of outer space, the company has already sought to capitalize on the generated fanfare by selling stock on the public markets. Barely a day after its successful space trip, the publicly traded Virgin Galactic filed a notice with the SEC to sell up to $500 million of common stock to fund its operations. It seems that investors weren't happy with that speedy cash grab, as Virgin Galactic stock fell 11% during trading on Monday after the sale was announced. Despite minimal revenues, Virgin Galactic has ridden the waves of fanfare to have a current market cap of $10bn. That market cap is up 10x from the company's debut through a SPAC merger in 2019. With Branson and co having a successful trip to suborbital space, it's validated that Virgin Galactic has the technical chops to open up a new

Space: Rocket Trip With Jeff Bezos Sells For $28M

A seat on a planned short space trip by Blue Origin, the aerospace company owned by Amazon's Jeff Bezos, has been auctioned off for a large amount - $28mn . That emerged as the winning bid from a group of 7,600 people across 159 countries. The $28mn bid was won by a yet-to-be-identified person, who will take a short trip to space aboard Blue Origin's New Shepard rocket. He/she will tag along with Jeff Bezos and his brother Mark Bezos on the trip to the edge of space. It'll be a short 11-minute trip to suborbital space and back as the first crewed mission undertaken by Blue Origin. It's a critical first space trip with humans aboard since Blue Origin was founded in 2000. The ride aboard Blue Origin's rocket is scheduled for July 20, barely two weeks after Bezos will step down as Amazon's CEO and become Chairman. It seems he has been waiting all this while to relinquish his CEO duties and take a trip to space. Blue Origin's first crewed mission is a thing of p

New SPAC Deals: Space Startups Rocket Lab, Spire Global

As usual, new weeks bring new SPAC merger deals and this new week has brought two new merger announcements, this time from the space industry. They are Rocket Lab , a well-known small satellite launch service provider, and Spire Global , a startup that specializes in the tracking of global data sets, e.g. maritime and aviation patterns, with the use of satellites in orbit. Rocket Lab Rocket Lab has announced an agreement to merge with Vector Acquisition Corporation (Nasdaq: VACQ), a special-purpose acquisition company (SPAC) sponsored by San Francisco-based investment firm Vector Capital.  Rocket Lab's merger deal will hand it over $320 million of cash held in trust by Vector Acquisition, plus a $470 million private-investment-in-public-equity (PIPE) round committed by investors including Vector Capital, BlackRock, and Neuberger Berman.  With the investors buying shares at $10 each, it implies a $4.1 billion valuation for Rocket Lab, 5.4x the satellite launch provider's projec

SpaceX Raises $850M, Valued At $74B: Report

Over the past few months, rumors have abounded that SpaceX was tapping into the market for new funds, despite having closed a $1.9 billion round, its largest single round ever, just in August last year. Now, it appears that those rumors have been substantiated, with CNBC reporting that SpaceX has raised a new round of $850 million that values the company at $74 billion. For its report, CNBC cites "people familiar with the financing". It's said that SpaceX raised its new funds by selling shares for $419.99 apiece, seemingly a nod to the $420-per-share Tesla takeover saga that got Elon Musk in hot water with regulators in 2018. SpaceX's last known funding round in 2020 valued it at $46 billion, so it appears that the company's valuation has now shot up by about 60% in less than a year. The new reported round comes a few months after SpaceX made history by being the first private company to send astronauts into orbit to the International Space Station (ISS). Spa

New SPAC Merger: Rocket Startup Astra

Every day or the other, there's likely a new SPAC merger to be announced. For those not in the know, SPACs refer to special-purpose acquisition companies, which are shell publicly-traded corporations with no operations designed to take existing companies public by merging with them. Just recently, the latest company to seal a SPAC deal to go public was the on-demand private aviation startup Wheels Up . Now, the next is also in the aviation and mechanical flight sector but even higher, being a rocket building startup named Astra, which has announced  a SPAC merger deal just roughly a year after emerging from stealth.  Astra will merge with Holicity Inc. (NASDAQ: HOL), a SPAC created by the telecom billionaire Craig McCaw. The merger deal values Astra at $2.1 billion, wherein up to $500 million in cash will be handed over to Astra, consisting of $300 million raised and held in trust by Holicity Inc. and an extra $200 million cash infusion committed by a group of investors led by the

SpaceX Plans All-Civilian Space Mission For This Year

After successfully launching and returning astronauts to and from the International Space Station (ISS) last year, it appears that the Elon Musk-led aerospace company SpaceX has its eyes set on making another record, this time organizing the first all-civilian crewed mission to the ISS. SpaceX has announced  plans to carry out the first all-civilian mission to space in the fourth quarter of 2021. The mission will be manned by four people led by Jared Isaacman, a billionaire tech entrepreneur who's the CEO of Shift4 Payments, a publicly-traded payments company. Isaacman is the one funding the mission and will select the other space tourists to ride with him. The mission, dubbed "Inspiration4" is planned to launch from the well-known Launch Complex 39A at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida on SpaceX's Falcon 9 launch vehicle and Dragon spacecraft. Isaacman and the crew that he's tagging along with will undergo commercial astronaut training by SpaceX to prepare

The First Private ISS Mission Seems Near

The International Space Station (ISS) is a modular space station in low Earth orbit that's famous across the globe. Every day, it travels around the globe, able to circle the whole Earth in the span of roughly 93 minutes. The ISS is governed by intergovernmental treaties and agreements, with the US at the forefront. Dozens of astronauts and cosmonauts as well as a few space tourists have gone to the ISS since it was launched in its current form in 1998. All of the missions to the ISS have been governmental and organized by the space agencies of various countries like the US, Russia, Japan, and Canada. Now, it appears that the first private mission to space is near, with the aerospace company Axiom Space having just announced  its private crew of four people that'll man the first private mission proposed to fly to the ISS.  The four people include an American, a Canadian, and a former Israeli Air Force pilot as passengers, and the fourth being Michael López-Alegría, a Spanish-Am

Starlink Rival OneWeb Raises $400M After Rescue From Bankruptcy

After emerging from bankruptcy with a joint rescue from the UK government and the Indian telecoms firm Bharti Global, OneWeb, a company seeking to build out a satellite internet network rivaling SpaceX's Starlink, has raised $400 million in new funding from SoftBank and Hughes Network Systems, a subsidiary of the satellite communications provider EchoStar. With the fresh $400 million round, OneWeb has now raised a total of $1.4 billion after emerging from bankruptcy. SoftBank provided $350 million out of the $400 million round, returning as an investor in OneWeb after previously pumping $1 billion into the company before getting its investment wiped out by a bankruptcy. As it seems, SoftBank has much money to burn on OneWeb, returning to invest in the company after getting burned earlier. Before filing for bankruptcy, OneWeb had raised a whopping $3 billion in venture funding but didn't give much output for that huge amount. Now controlled by the UK government and Bharti Globa

SpaceX's Starlink Gets UK Greenlight

Starlink, the proposed satellite internet service from SpaceX, has received licensing approval from the UK's communications regulator, clearing the way for the venture to get into another major broadband market. An authorization for SpaceX's Starlink was granted in November, according to a statement from a spokesman at the UK Office of Communications (Ofcom). Going by local reports, Starlink has also received approval in other European countries including Greece, Germany, and Australia. The satellite internet service originates from the US where SpaceX is based and has begun tests in both the country and neighboring Canada. Starlink consists of a planned constellation of thousands of mass-produced small satellites in low Earth orbit that'll beam internet access to the Earth by working in combination with ground transceivers. Already, SpaceX has launched more than 950 Starlink satellites into orbit out of a planned constellation of 42,000 such satellites, for which it's

Lockheed Martin Buys Aerojet Rocketdyne

The American aerospace and defense company Lockheed Martin has announced that it's reached a definitive agreement to buy Aerojet Rocketdyne, a publicly-traded rocket and missile propulsion manufacturer, in a $5 billion deal. Lockheed Martin has agreed to pay $56 in cash for each share of Aerojet Rocketdyne, representing a 33% premium to the company's closing price on Friday, the 18th of December, 2020.  Under the terms of the purchase, $5 out of the $56 will go towards a special dividend to Aerojet's shareholders, leaving the remaining acquisition price at $51 per share and summing up to $4.4 billion. The special dividend will be paid to Aerojet's shareholders in March next year while the entire acquisition is expected to be completed in the first half of next year.  The $5 billion deal for Aerojet Rocketdyne represents one of the biggest acquisitions in the aerospace industry this year. It's the first major deal spearheaded by Lockheed's new CEO, Jim Taiclet,

SpaceX Shoots For $92B Valuation

The aerospace company SpaceX is seeking to raise a fresh big round of funding at a targeted valuation of up to $92 billion, Business Insider reports , citing "two people with knowledge of the deal". SpaceX just raised a $1.9 billion round at a valuation of $46 billion this August so a target to now double that valuation seems very ambitious. Since its inception, the company has raised a total of $5.4 billion in venture funding so it doesn't seem to have a problem attracting big investors. SpaceX is ramping up its Starlink satellite and Starship rocket programs so likely requires more capital to uphold those projects, which aren't currently generating revenue for the company. Just recently, the company flew its Starship rocket to its highest altitude yet in a test flight before it exploded during the process of landing back on Earth. Likewise, SpaceX is making significant progress on its Starlink satellite project and has launched nearly a thousand satellites out of

SpaceX Nabs $885M Starlink Aid From FCC

The aerospace company SpaceX has been awarded the sum of $885 million in federal subsidies from the US government under a program from the  US  Federal Communications Commission (FCC)  that doled out $9.2 billion in aid to dozens of companies for the deployment of  high-speed broadband internet service to underserved rural areas. The FCC awarded nearly $900 million in aid to SpaceX for its Starlink satellite internet network which is still in the works. Starlink consists of a planned constellation of 42,000 satellites that'll beam internet access to areas on Earth. So far, it's gotten approval from the FCC to launch 12,000 satellites and has launched nearly 1,000 satellites for the initial phase. Starlink satellite deployed over Earth. The Covid-19 pandemic this year has proved the importance of high-speed internet access as a utility, whereas rural areas in the US are usually underserved and don't have access to the high-speed internet access available in cities. For refe

Aevum Unveils Satellite-Launching Drone

Aevum, an Alabama-based aerospace startup, has unveiled a big autonomous drone that it aims to use to deliver satellites into space. The unveiling of the new drone comes after Aevum had secured contracts for 20 satellite missions from the US government that could be worth up to $986 million if fulfilled. Aevum's drone, named Ravn X is 80 ft. long, has a 60 ft. wingspan, is 18 ft. tall, and has a gross takeoff weight of 55,000 lbs. Aevum says it'll be 70% reusable out of the gate and will be up to 95% reusable 'in the near future'. The company says Ravn X uses the same jet fuel as a normal airplane and will be able to launch from any 1-mile runway. The design of the newly-unveiled drone was five years in the making, wherein Aevum worked from its headquarters in the state of Alabama to come up with the concept. Aevum is working to fulfill its first mission next year for the United States Space Force, wherein it's picked up an initial $4.9 million satellite launch con

Sequoia Bets $500M On SpaceX

This August, SpaceX raised $1.9 billion in new funding that was made known by filings with the US Securities and Exchanges Commission. The company didn't put out a formal press release regarding the round, leaving speculation as to who wrote the checks. Now, the news site The Information reports that Sequoia Capital led the round with a $500 million investment from its part. Sequoia is a big venture capital firm with billions of dollars of capital under its management so writing a $500 million check to SpaceX doesn't seem startling. Sequoia is, however, not much big into aerospace and high-tech companies like SpaceX, with most of its investments having gone to software-based companies. Sequoia is a storied venture capital firm that has clinched very successful exits on companies like Google, Instagram, Square, and Oracle. SpaceX seems to be the first aerospace company that the venture capital firm has ever backed. The $1.9 billion round that SpaceX raised in August pegged it

Relativity Space Nabs $500M Round

Relativity Space, a Los Angeles-based startup that's working on 3D-printed rockets, has announced that it's raised $500 million in Series D funding from a party of investors led by the hedge fund Tiger Global. Other notable participants in the round include General Catalyst, Baillie Gifford, Fidelity, Mary Meeker's Bond, Playground Global, and entrepreneurs Mark Cuban and Spencer Rascoff (Zillow). The $500 million round represents one of the largest-ever single rounds for a space startup, on par with several rounds raised by the aerospace leader SpaceX. Although the valuation that came with the round isn't disclosed, previous reports that shed light on the funding round even before its formal announcement pegged the valuation at $2.3 billion. Relativity Space is a very notable company, given its work on 3D printing rockets and rocket parts. It's the first known company that's looking to 3D print the majority of an entire rocket, with an aim of making the rocket

SpaceX Set For Historic Crew Mission

  Astronauts Michael Hopkins (left) and Soichi Noguchi (right).  Photo credit: NASA After getting formally certified earlier this month by NASA for crew missions to and fro the International Space Station following the success of its recent pilot mission when it sent two astronauts to the ISS on the Falcon 9 in May and successfully returned them in August, the aerospace company SpaceX is set to perform another crew mission, this time with four astronauts that'll it send to the International Space Station aboard a Falcon 9 and Crew Dragon human spaceflight system on Sunday night. SpaceX is set to send four astronauts into space, three of whom are from America's NASA and one from the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA). They are by names Mike Hopkins, Victor Glover, Shannon Walker, and Soichi Noguchi, heading on a mission to the ISS that'll last for six months.  The crew mission is the first out of three that are scheduled to take place over this year and the next. Sp

Astroscale Lands $51 Million Round

Nobu Okada, CEO, Astroscale. Photo credit: Tech In Asia Astroscale, a Japanese orbital debris removal company, has announced that it's secured $51 million in Series E funding led by investment firm aSTART, a funding round that brings the total amount of financing raised by the company to $191 million. Astroscale will use the new funding to further its business of helping space and satellite companies to recover orbital debris from space.  A significant problem for space exploration is the presence of debris from satellites or parts of satellites launched into space from earth and discarded after use or tests. Astroscale, now Japan's most funded private space venture, has stepped in to address that problem by looking to offer space debris removal missions. Astroscale was founded in 2013 and raised its first external funding round two years later. Most of the company's investors hail from Japan where it's based while also maintaining other offices in the US, UK, Israel, a

Momentus Eyes Reverse Listing

Mikhail Kokorich, Founder and CEO, Momentus. Photo credit: Steve Jurvetson on Flickr , licensed under Creative Commons Momentus, a space transportation company, is in discussions to go public by the way of a reverse merger with Stable Road Acquisition Corp, a special purpose acquisition company (SPAC), according to a report [paywall] from Bloomberg . Momentus is said to be targeting a valuation of nearly $1 billion from its reverse merger. Stable Road Acquisition Corp, the reported SPAC mergee, raised $172.5 million in its public market debut in November last year, money that'll be transferred to Momentus in the case of a merger. Momentus, a Y Combinator alum, is a space transportation company with ambitions of providing “last-mile delivery” in space by transporting satellites and cargo to specific orbits using a specially made vehicle named the  Vigoride . The Vigoride is akin to a delivery truck that'll bring a package to its final destination after a large cargo aircraft de

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