Astra chief engineer Benjamin Lyon quits rocket maker

Benjamin Lyon, Chief Engineer and Executive Vice President of Engineering and Operations


Besieged rocket scientist Aster is losing its highly publicized chief engineer, Benjamin Lyon, the company said in a statement on Friday.

Lyon resigned as Astra’s chief engineer and executive vice president of operations and engineering on Monday, the company said. The company said he was leaving to take another opportunity and that his last day of work was expected to be December 27th.

In a statement, Astra CEO Chris Kemp thanked Lyon “for his service and contributions.”

“We are grateful to Benjamin for his leadership in bringing Astra into orbit and helping to build a world-class engineering and operations organization,” Kemp said.

Astra shares were little changed in premarket trading from the previous close of 52 cents a share.

Following the announcement of Lyon’s departure, Astra announced four promotions to its management team. Four new Astra Program Managers: Giovanni Greco for launch systems, Jonathan Donaldson for spacecraft engines, Doug Kuntzman for launch and test operations, and Bryson Gentile for manufacturing.

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Lyon joined Astra in February 2021 from Applewhere he worked on the development of products such as the iPhone and Mac.

But Astra has an uphill battle ahead after the company abandoned its Rocket 3.3 rocket after a flight failure and decided to pause launches in order to build a larger upgraded rocket. The company announced it was laying off 16% of its workforce on Nov. 11 as it works to cut operating costs as it moves forward with development.

In October, Astra’s vice president of communications Kati Dam left the company, and last month CFO Kelin Brannon stepped down and the company brought in Axel Martinez as CFO from Virgin Hyperloop One.

Astra shares are down 92% this year as of Thursday’s close. The company received a delisting warning from Nasdaq in October after its shares fell below $1 a share. The company has until April to raise the share price above the level.

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