What happened

Shares of rocket developer Astra Space (ASTR 0.28%) closed down 7.9% on Monday after a rough day for the stock market in general. The S&P 500 fell 1.3%, and growth stocks in particular got pummeled.

But Astra Space stock has problems all its own.

Simple red arrow declining on stock chart on a white checked background.

Image source: Getty Images.

So what

Specifically, the new space stock picked up its first sell rating on Wall Street. This was its second rating overall since Deutsche Bank became the first analyst to cover it back in July (with a buy rating, as StreetInsider.com reported at the time).

Back then, Deutsche endorsed Astra as "the first pure rocket launch company to go public," arguing the shares offered "a unique value proposition in the marketplace." But demurring from Deutsche's point of view, Bank of America today tagged Astra with an "underperform" rating, warning that it sees limited upside in the shares based on the fact that Astra is already "several paces" behind rivals, such as Rocket Lab and Virgin Orbit, as TheFly.com reported today.

Now what

That's harsh criticism -- but accurate. It's been nine months now since Virgin Orbit completed its first-ever orbital launch of a satellite to space. Virgin Orbit repeated the feat in June and there are plans for a third launch later this year, followed by an IPO via a special purpose acquisition company (SPAC).  

Rocket Lab has been even busier, notching 21 successful space launches since its first one back in May 2017. It has as many as four more launches in the hopper for later this month, according to our friends at Next Spaceflight.    

In contrast, Astra's latest attempt at reaching orbit fell short last month -- its sixth failure in a row. As the competition blasts further and further ahead of Astra, it's easy to see why Bank of America would be pessimistic about Astra's chances of ever catching up.