What happened

Global launch services provider Spaceflight Inc., a division of Japanese industrial giant Mitsui & Co., had good news for space fans today: Its SXRS-5 flight, which launched as part of SpaceX's Transporter-2 small satellite (SmallSat) express launch back on June 30, has been declared a "100% mission success."

And while Spaceflight Inc. may not be a publicly traded company, with a stock price that would benefit from this news, start-up defense contractor Astra Space (ASTR 3.40%)is, and and its stock price just did -- benefit.

Spaceflight Inc.'s family of Sherpa OTV space tugs.

Meet Spaceflight Inc.'s family of Sherpa space tugs. Image source: Spaceflight Inc.

So what

Other than the fact that they're both space companies, what does Astra Space have to do with Spaceflight, you ask?

Well, simply this: The two Spaceflight spaceships that made up the SXRS-5 flight were both "orbital transport vehicles" (OTVs) -- small rocket ships that function as space tugs that can carry a cargo of satellites into their proper orbits after launch or even carry those satellites on missions outside Earth orbit.

One of Spaceflight's two OTVs was a Sherpa-FX tug that is designed to move as many as 14 other satellites at a time. The other was Spaceflight's new Sherpa-LTE craft, a tug powered by electric propulsion from Apollo Fusion -- and Astra Space just happens to own Apollo Fusion.  

Now what

So now you see the connection.

Spaceflight had previously hired Apollo Fusion to build an electric spacecraft engine that would give its Sherpa-LTE spacecraft the ability to carry payloads to very high Earth orbits and even beyond Earth on interplanetary missions. In a prescient move, Astra bought Apollo Fusion in July 2021 before the company had even proven the thruster would work on an operational mission. And now, for the first time ever, it has done just that!

And that's why, as of 3:37 p.m. EDT Tuesday afternoon, Astra Space stock is flying a triple-lucky 7.77% higher.