Pittsburgh-based Astrobotic has acquired Masten Space Systems after the latter filed for bankruptcy protection 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 portfolio of space technologies, including its vertical launch and landing missiles 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 work at Masten’s headquarters in Mojave, California. Masten founder and CTO, David Masten, joins Astrobotic as chief engineer.
Astrobotic said it would continue sub-orbital flight operations at Masten’s facilities in Mojave, while development of the Xogdor rocket continued. This missile, the latest of Masten’s landlanders, can be used by government and commercial customers to validate technologies such as payload integration and landing systems. Masten also maintains propulsion test benches, which will continue to operate under new ownership.
“Masten’s suborbital launch vehicles and propulsion test centers are national assets for the space industry,” Astrobotic CEO John Thornton said in a statement. “We are excited to operate and expand these services internationally for businesses, governments and aerospace organizations,”
Masten is also developing a series of lunar landers, and Astrobotic — which is sending two landers to the moon under contracts with NASA — will no doubt benefit from the influx of related technology. That includes “innovations in lunar night survival, instant landing pad construction, lunar water mining technology and lunar infrastructure construction technologies,” which will be further developed, Astrobotic said.
It’s unclear if Astrobotic will fulfill Masten’s first lunar mission, Masten Mission 1. That mission, which is 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 Sept. 6. Two companies submitted additional bids: Intuitive Machines, which offered $2.7 million for a SpaceX launch credit, and $750,000 to test equipment from Impulse Space.