Astra Space’s rocket isn’t the only thing falling from the sky.
Shares of the highly publicized US space company fell nearly a quarter on Monday after one of Astra’s rockets suffered a dramatic malfunction over the weekend during a test mission for the US SpaceForce.
Astra Space stock opened 24% lower at $8.87 on Monday before recovering somewhat to $9.41 by mid-morning.
It marks a severe fall from grace for the California-based rocket maker, which saw its shares trade above $15 in July shortly after it went public in a SPAC deal. a valuation of $2.1 billion.
On Saturday, an Astra Space rocket malfunctioned during a test flight in Kodiak, Alaska, when one of the rocket’s five main engines shut down in a plume of smoke shortly after leaving the ground.
The loss of one engine tipped the rocket on its side before lifting off fully, knocking it off course as it accelerated toward space for two and a half minutes.
Astra engineers then shut down all rocket engines before they reached orbit, causing the craft to fall to the ground.
The company – which had also raised $100 million from backers including BlackRock, Airbus, former Disney CEO Michael Eisner and Salesforce co-founder Marc Benioff before going public – never managed to put a rocket into orbit.
Astra’s failed launch on Saturday was the company’s first trade mission. The rocket was carrying a test payload as part of a US Space Force program.
“We regret that we were unable to achieve all of the US Space Force’s mission objectives,” Chris Kemp, the company’s founder and CEO, said in a statement on Saturday. “However, we have captured an enormous amount of data from this test flight.”
Astra added that it had opened an “inquiry into the accident” and was working with the Federal Aviation Administration to investigate the failure.
Astra spokeswoman Kati Daum did not immediately respond to a request for comment on Monday.