Astrobotic grows with the acquisition of Masten Space Systems

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Pittsburgh-based Astrobotic acquired Masten Space Systems after the latter company filed for bankruptcy in late July. The acquisition follows a successful $4.5 million bid for Masten’s assets in a Delaware bankruptcy court earlier this month.

The acquisition includes Masten’s substantial space technology portfolio, including its vertical take-off and landing rocket and propulsion test centers. The acquisition brings the combined workforce of the two companies to more than 200 employees, some of whom will continue to operate from Masten’s corporate headquarters in Mojave, California. Masten Founder and CTO David Masten joins Astrobotic as Chief Engineer.

Astrobotic said it would continue suborbital flight operations at Masten’s facilities in Mojave, while continuing development of the Xogdor rocket. This rocket, the newest of Masten’s land-based landers, can be used by government and commercial customers to validate technologies such as payload integration and landing systems. Masten also maintains propulsion test beds, which will continue to operate under new ownership.

“Masten’s suborbital launch vehicles and propulsion test centers are national assets to the space industry,” Astrobotic CEO John Thornton said in a statement. “We are excited to operate and expand these services for businesses, governments and space agencies globally,”

Masten is also developing a series of lunar landers, and Astrobotic – which sends two landers to the Moon under contracts with NASA – will no doubt benefit from the influx of related technology. This includes “innovations in lunar nighttime survival, instant landing pad construction, lunar water extraction technology, and lunar infrastructure construction technologies,” which will continue to be developed, Astrobotic said. .

It’s unclear whether Astrobotic will complete Masten’s first lunar mission, Masten Mission 1. The mission, part of NASA’s Commercial Lunar Payload Services program, is scheduled for 2023.

The Delaware bankruptcy court held an auction for Masten’s assets on September 6. Two companies submitted additional bids: Intuitive Machines, which offered $2.7 million for SpaceX launch credit, and $750,000 to test equipment from Impulse Space.

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