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Astra reduces workforce by 16% after almost tripling it in the previous year

Publicly traded rocket startup Astra informed investors on Tuesday that it has laid off 16% of its personnel as part of a larger effort to expand the company’s decreasing financial runway and reduce expenditures.

The corporation also said it will cut down on space services spending in the near future in order to focus on expanding its launch and spacecraft engine operations. With 237 confirmed orders for its spacecraft engines from companies like Maxar, OneWeb, and Astroscale, the latter sector has become an increasingly important income stream for Astra. That’s a 130% rise over the previous quarter.

To replace the lightweight Rocket 3 vehicle that has had many launch failures this year, Astra is creating Launch System 2, which will consist of a new rocket, software package, and ground system. (In August, Astra announced it was ending the rocket programme altogether.) The first flight tests are scheduled to begin in the second part of 2023.

Astra’s new COO, Axel Martinez, is a seasoned executive with a background in capital management, therefore the new financial plan follows on the heels of his hiring. TechCrunch was informed at the time by a source with knowledge of the situation that the space corporation need such knowledge due to the generally fearful climate of the equities markets caused by rising inflation, interest rates, and other market-wide pressures.

CEO Chris Kemp told investors on a teleconference on Tuesday that Astra had quadrupled in size in the span of a year, ballooning to more than 400 workers. This rapid expansion casts a shadow on the layoffs. At the very least, it means 64 jobs were eliminated at Astra.

As of the end of the third quarter, the firm had $151 million in cash on hand. From their spaceship engines, the company earned $2.8m in sales but lost a total of $199.1m. Due to the reduction in headcount, Astra expects to save money on payroll in the first quarter of 2019.