An illustration of the SpaceMobile satellite constellation.
Shares of satellite-to-smartphone broadband company AST SpaceMobile began trading on the Nasdaq on Wednesday, with the company the first among a flurry of recent space companies to close its SPAC deal.
AST SpaceMobile trades under the ticker ASTS, with shares previously listed under the SPAC New Providence before the merger.
A SPAC–or special purpose acquisition company–is a shell company that’s designed to raise money through an initial public offering for the purpose of acquiring a private firm and taking it public.
The stock climbed as much as 5% in early trading on Wednesday, up from its previous close of $11.60 a share.
AST’s corporate headquarters and high-volume manufacturing facility in Midland, Texas
AST & Science
AST SpaceMobile, based in Midland, Texas, is building a network of satellites, also known as a constellation, that is designed to deliver broadband from space directly to consumer smartphones.
Existing satellite networks require additional physical devices to connect to the service, such as Iridium’s mobile satellite phones or SpaceX’s Starlink user terminals. The satellite communications market has become increasingly crowded, however, with new services from the likes of OneWeb, Telesat, and Lockheed Martin’s recent partnership with space-based 5G startup Omnispace.
“We don’t see the other satellite [low Earth Orbit] constellations like Starlink as a competitor. Actually, we think that is a great thing they are happening, as they lower the cost of launch and they make space more affordable, basically, to the masses,” AST chairman and CEO Abel Avellan told CNBC’s Morgan Brennan on Wednesday.
The company, which raised about $120 million in private capital before the SPAC deal, expects to add about $462 million in total proceeds from the merger. The new capital will fund the company’s development of its network, with AST planning to launch its next demonstration satellite BlueWalker 3 later this year. Avellan said AST expects to “soon” announce launch contracts with multiple rocket companies to deliver its satellites to orbit.
“It’s a long term opportunity … but it’s a very very large opportunity in a very large addressable market,” Avellan said.
The close of AST’s deal comes as the first among a recent series of space SPACs. Including AST, seven space companies have announced SPAC mergers in the past six months.