Pittsburgh-based Astrobotic acquired Masten Space Systems after the latter company filed for bankruptcy protection at the end of 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 significant space technology portfolio, including its vertical launch and landing rocket and propulsion centers. The acquisition increases the workforce of both companies to more than 200 employees, some of whom will continue to work at Masten’s headquarters in Mojave, California. Masten’s founder and CTO, David Masten, joins Astrobotic as Chief Engineer.
Astrobotic said it will continue suborbital flight operations at Masten’s facilities in Mojave while continuing development of the Xogdor rocket. This rocket, the latest 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 powertrain test benches that 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 companies, governments and space agencies internationally.”
Masten also develops a series of lunar landers and Astrobotic – which sends two lunar landers under contracts with NASA—will undoubtedly benefit from an influx of related technologies. This includes “innovations in lunar night survival, construction of immediate landing pads, lunar water extraction technology and lunar infrastructure construction technologies” that will continue to be developed, Astrobotic said.
It is unclear whether Astrobotic will fly Masten’s first lunar mission, Masten Mission 1. That mission, part of NASA’s Commercial Lunar Payload Services program, is scheduled for 2023.
The Delaware bankruptcy court held an auction of Masten’s assets on September 6. Two companies submitted additional bids: Intuitive Machines, which offered $2.7 million in launch credit to SpaceX, and $750,000 in test equipment from Impulse Space.