Astrobotic Submits Winning Bid for Assets of Bankrupt Masten Space Systems – Parabolic Arc

Masten’s XL-1 lunar lander will deliver science and technology payloads to the South Pole of the Moon in 2022. (Credits: Masten Space Systems)

by Douglas Messier
Chief Editor

MOJAVE, Calif., Sept. 6, 2022 — Astrobotic Technology of Pittsburgh submitted the winning $4.5 million bid to acquire the assets of bankrupt Masten Space Systems, beating two other bidders, according to court documents.

The $4.5 million payment will be made in cash “plus a waiver of Astrobotic’s unsecured claim against the debtor’s estate, plus payment of all costs relating to any contract that Astrobotic may take by assignment” , according to the transcript of a hearing held Tuesday in Delaware Bankruptcy Court.

Masten filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy to protect himself from his creditors in July. The case took place after the company laid off some of its employees and furloughed almost all of those who remained.

Intuitive Machines offered $2.725 million for Masten’s assets. Impulse Space offered $750,000 for some test equipment. Representatives for both companies declined to raise their bids at the hearing, leaving Astrobotic the winner. says the transcript. A hearing will be held on Thursday, September 8 to approve Astrobotic’s acquisition of the assets.

Astrobotic had previously reached an agreement with Masten to acquire the assets for $4.5 million in what is known as a stalking horse bid. The amount became the minimum or floor for the auction of Masten’s assets.

Astrobotic also provided Masten with a $1.4 million debtor-in-possession (DIP) loan to allow the company to operate during bankruptcy. Sources say Masten brought back a number of workers who were laid off in July.

Astrobotic acquired a $14 million credit for a launch on a SpaceX Falcon 9 as part of its winning bid. The credit represents the amount Masten paid Elon Musk’s company to launch a spacecraft that would have delivered the MoonRanger rover and a suite of scientific instruments to the lunar surface for NASA. SpaceX canceled the launch in June because Masten had not paid the company an additional $4.6 million as required by the contract.

NASA awarded Masten a contract worth $75.9 million for the mission under its Commercial Lunar Payload Services (CLPS) program in April 2020. The CLPS pays companies to deliver payloads on the moon.

NASA funding did not cover the full cost of the mission. Masten failed to raise additional funds to cover the shortfall, which led to the declaration of bankruptcy. Three companies also declined to buy Masten earlier this year, largely due to lunar mission liabilities.

Masten Mission 1 would have been the first space mission for the company, which built a series of low-altitude vertical launch/landing vehicles that it piloted at Mojave Air and Space Port in California.

NASA has awarded Pittsburgh-based Astrobotic two separate CLPS contracts to deliver a rover and science instruments to the lunar surface on two missions. It is unknown if Astrobotic will undertake Masten Mission 1.