Pittsburgh-based Astrobotic acquired Masten Space Systems after the company file for bankruptcy protection at the end of July. The acquisition comes after a successful $4.5 million bid for Masten’s assets in a Delaware bankruptcy court earlier this month.
The acquisition covers Masten’s key space technology portfolio, including rocket testing centers and vertical takeoff and landing engines. The acquisition brings the two companies’ combined workforces to more than 200 employees, some of whom will continue to operate at Masten’s headquarters in Mojave, California. Masten founder and CTO, David Masten, will join Astrobotic as chief engineer.
Astrobotic said it will continue suborbital operations at Masten’s facilities in Mojave, while continuing to develop the Xogdor rocket. This missile, the latest in Masten’s land-based landing craft, can be used by government and commercial customers to validate technologies such as payload integration and landing systems. Masten also maintains engine test platforms, which will continue to operate under the new ownership.
“Masten’s suborbital launch vehicles and propulsion test centers are a national asset to the space industry,” Astrobotic CEO John Thornton said in a statement. “We are excited to operate and extend these services to companies, governments and space agencies around the world,”
Masten is also developing a series of lunar and Astrobotic landers – sending two moon landing craft under contract with NASA – will certainly benefit from the stream of related technologies. That includes “innovations in moon night viability, instant landing pad construction, lunar water extraction technology, and lunar infrastructure building technology,” which will continue. continues to be developed, Astrobotic said.
It’s unclear if Astrobotic will carry out Masten’s first moon mission, Masten Mission 1. That mission, which is part of NASA’s Commercial Moon Upload Service 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 auctioned $2.7 million in SpaceX launch credits, and $750,000 for test gear from Impulse Space.