commercial, intuitive machines

Updated 1:20 p.m. Eastern with Masten statement.

WASHINGTON — Masten Space Systems, a company developing a lunar lander for a NASA mission, filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy July 28 with plans to sell one of its major assets to a competitor.

Masten filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the District of Delaware. The company, based in Mojave, California, reported having estimated assets of between $10 million and $50 million, and estimated liabilities in the same range.

The company is one of five that had won Commercial Lunar Payload Services (CLPS) awards from NASA to deliver payloads to the lunar surface. NASA issued a $75.9 million award to Masten in April 2020 to deliver a suite of experiments to the lunar surface using its XL-1 lander. The mission, originally scheduled for 2022, was pushed back to November 2023 because what the company said in June 2021 were pandemic-related supply chain issues.

Industry sources reported the company encountered financial problems recently, forcing it to furlough its staff for the month of July and lay off many of the people working on the XL-1 project.

“Masten intends to use the Chapter 11 process to streamline Masten’s expenses, optimize its operations and conduct sale processes that maximize value for its unsecured creditors,” Sean Bedford, general counsel of Masten Space Systems, said in a statement to SpaceNews. “We are hopeful that this process will enable Masten to continue operations and deliver value for its customers and the space industry.”

The filing lists as its largest creditor SpaceX, who has a contract to launch the XL-1 lander. Masten owes SpaceX $4.6 million, according to the filing. Other major creditors include Psionic, a developer of navigation systems; another lunar lander company, Astrobotic; NuSpace, an aerospace components supplier; and propulsion company Frontier Aerospace.

Masten states in the filing that it has a “stalking horse asset purchase agreement” for its SpaceX launch credit with Intuitive Machines, another lunar lander company. Such an agreement ensures a sale of the asset but does not prevent Masten from seeking a better deal. The company said it will sell its other assets through “one or more purchases” to be approved by its board.

While Masten says it intends to continue operators, one outside expert sees the situation differently. “This is not going to be a reorganization,” said Adam Stein-Sapir, a bankruptcy expert at Pioneer Funding Group, which is not involved in the case. His review of the filing led him to conclude that Masten’s investors decided “to cut their losses and sell the pieces to willing buyers.”

While Chapter 11 filings are usually associated with reorganizations, he said they can also be used to liquidate a company. “It gives the debtor a little more control,” he said. A Chapter 7 filing to liquidate a company involves a court-assigned trustee that has discretion on how to dispose of assets. “This allows the management team to exercise a little more control over the wind-down.”

The stalking horse agreement to sell the launch credits to Intuitive Machines suggested to him that the company has been planning for a Chapter 11 bankruptcy for some time. “This has been thought out. This is not an emergency filing,” he said. “I do expect a quick process.”

In addition to its lunar lander work, Masten has developed several vertical-takeoff-and-landing rockets for use as technology demonstrators. The company had a contract with NASA’s Flight Opportunities program to offer those vehicles for researchers, including NASA itself, which used them to test technologies for the Mars 2020 lander.

TECH NEWS RELATED

Rocket Lab to launch 150th satellite with upcoming Synspective SAR launch

Rocket Lab USA, Inc (Nasdaq: RKLB) has announced its upcoming 30th Electron launch will deliver its 150th payload and 300th Rutherford engine to space. The mission is a dedicated launch for Japanese Earth-imaging satellite constellation operator Synspective. “The Owl Spreads Its Wings” mission is scheduled to lift-off from Pad ...

View more: Rocket Lab to launch 150th satellite with upcoming Synspective SAR launch

Russian astronauts' spacewalk disrupted by spacesuit issue

A screenshot of a video footage shows Roscosmos’ cosmonauts Oleg Artemyev and Denis Matveev conduct their spacewalk on the International Space Station, August 17, 2022. /CFP Two Russian astronauts ended their spacewalk earlier than planned on Wednesday as one of them had a battery issue with his spacesuit, Russia’s ...

View more: Russian astronauts' spacewalk disrupted by spacesuit issue

Mars Exploration: Scientists Made a New Way to Produce Oxygen, Fuel, and MORE

The Mars exploration in the future found a new ally through an innovation by researchers and scientists that developed a new way to transform carbon dioxide into oxygen, fuel, and more via plasma ignition. In-situ resource utilization using plasma is the new method that researchers are looking into, for future ...

View more: Mars Exploration: Scientists Made a New Way to Produce Oxygen, Fuel, and MORE

China's largest container-like computing facility connects to network

The Wuhan Supercomputing Center will offer computing power of 50 petaflops in the initial stage. /China Media Group China’s largest container-like computing facility, Wuhan Supercomputing Center, was recently officially connected to the national network and is in the final stage before it is launched. Located in central China’s Hubei ...

View more: China's largest container-like computing facility connects to network

SpaceX Falcon Heavy rocket could still launch first military mission in 2022

In a statement issued to Bloomberg, the US Space Force says that SpaceX’s Falcon Heavy rocket could still conduct its first operational launch for the military before the end of the year. That’s a large downgrade from late 2021 and early 2022, when – lacking any new information from the ...

View more: SpaceX Falcon Heavy rocket could still launch first military mission in 2022

The Photon Ring: Astrophysicists “Resolve a Fundamental Signature of Gravity Around a Black Hole”

The emission from M87 has now been resolved into a bright, thin ring (orange colormap), arising from the infinite sequence of additional images of the emission region, and the more diffuse primary image, produced by the photons that come directly toward Earth (in blue contours). When viewed at the ...

View more: The Photon Ring: Astrophysicists “Resolve a Fundamental Signature of Gravity Around a Black Hole”

SLS arrives at the pad for Artemis 1 launch

WASHINGTON — NASA’s Space Launch System made its third trip to the launch pad Aug. 17, this time with the intent of lifting by early next month. The mobile launch platform carrying the SLS and its Orion spacecraft left the Vehicle Assembly Building at the Kennedy Space Center at ...

View more: SLS arrives at the pad for Artemis 1 launch

Commercial geospatial technologies that detect GPS disruptions to be tested in military exercises

The Defense Innovation Unit is working with vendors to develop prototype systems that use data from space and other sources, artificial intelligence and machine learning WASHINGTON — U.S. military and allied forces in upcoming exercises will put to the test commercial technologies that could help detect GPS jamming or ...

View more: Commercial geospatial technologies that detect GPS disruptions to be tested in military exercises

Here’s the Largest Image JWST Has Taken So Far

Watch a SpaceX Dragon cargo capsule leave the space station Thursday

China prepares to launch yet another new solid rocket, the Smart Dragon 3

Colliding black holes could clock universe's expansion rate

Spacesuit power problem cuts Russian spacewalk short outside space station

Save 20% on the Sky-Watcher Heritage-76 Mini Dobsonian Telescope

Want to grow plants on Mars? High school student project finds 2 tricks for Red Planet

Get 43% off the Estes Saturn V model rocket, and save on launch sets too

R136 is the Most Massive Star Astronomers Have Ever Found. We Just got Some new Images of it

Cosmonaut returns to space station airlock after spacesuit problem

Symbolic baton rides with NASA Artemis 1 rocket on rollout for launch

Supermassive black hole's bright 'photon ring' revealed in new image

OTHER TECH NEWS

Top Car News Car News