The CEO of German space laser company Mynaric talks about Nasdaq’s IPO, plans for growth

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German laser communications company Mynaric, which was listed on Nasdaq last week, and CEO Bülent Altan, a former SpaceX executive, spoke to CNBC about the company’s US debut and plans for further growth.

The company raised $ 75.9 million from its initial public offering, with a share price of $ 16.50 per share. The stock has risen slightly since then, having closed at $ 18.19 per share on Thursday.

Mynaric makes optical communication terminals, a device that uses a laser to send data from one point to another. Altan stated that Mynaric’s target market is companies building satellite constellations, including broadband, earth imagery, and more.

“This isn’t just a pure space game, it’s almost a pure constellation game,” said Altan, emphasizing that most satellite companies are not public, citing SpaceX’s Starlink a notable example of a constellation run by a company that could go public one day but has not yet.

The company has not yet launched a complete laser terminal, but has successfully carried out flight tests for aircraft. Mynaric hopes to hold a space demonstration in the second quarter of next year, but Altan noted that the schedule is “fluid” and depends on the company’s customers.

Altan said Mynaric chose to list on Nasdaq because “you have an investor base in the US who understands and has been around the space market for a while”.

“All of the space industry is coming to Europe, but it’s in the US that it’s got established,” he said.

Altan – who spent more than a decade at SpaceX, most recently as Vice President of Satellite Mission Assurance – said Elon Musk’s company is not a Mynaric customer. SpaceX is “very vertically integrated,” Altan said, and the laser communications technology that Starlink satellites use is different from Mynaric’s, making the chances of customer relationships “low”.

“I think being a technology partner would be a better way for us to explore,” Altan said of SpaceX. In particular, the company nominated former SpaceX Vice President Hans Koenigsmann as a member of the Mynaric Supervisory Board earlier this fall.

The other motivation for listing Mynaric was that its “customer base is now very US-centric,” said Altan – including companies like Northrop Grumman and Imagery startup Capella.

“The government is currently indirectly buying as many laser communication terminals by purchasing a large number of satellites with laser communication capability,” Altan said.

Right now, Mynaric is well capitalized, he said, and there is no “immediate need” to raise more money. It has a facility that can build up to 400 laser terminals per year, but Mynaric plans to increase that to 2,000 per year.

“The underlying technology is really mass production oriented,” said Altan.