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Space SPAC Index: Intuitive Machines Shares Plunge Back to Earth, Rocket Lab Revenue Soars, WhiteKnightTwo Returns to NM, Astra Space Reveals Cause of Launch Failure

By Doug Messier
Parabolic Arc
March 7, 2023
Filed under , , , , , ,
Space SPAC Index: Intuitive Machines Shares Plunge Back to Earth, Rocket Lab Revenue Soars, WhiteKnightTwo Returns to NM, Astra Space Reveals Cause of Launch Failure
IM-mission’s Nova-C lander (Credit: Intuitive Machines)

Plus news about AST SpaceMobile

Welcome to this week’s S-SPACi.

Apologies for the gap in indexes. I was busy covering the Next-generation Suborbital Researchers Conference in Colorado last week. Lots to catch up on.

Intuitive Machines Falls Back to Earth

Intuitive Machines’ (NAS: LUNR) investors have been on a rollercoaster ride in the three weeks since the lunar services company went public through a merger with Inflection Point Acquisition Corp. The stock soared to a high of $136 after opening at $10 on Feb. 14. The stock closed at $12.56 on Tuesday.

The runup in the stock was curious because the merger was generally seen as a disappointment. The merger was to have provided the lunar services company with $331 million after fees and expenses were deducted. The amount included $301 million from Inflection Point, and $55 million divided between Inflection Point affiliate Kingstown Capital Management ($29 million) and an Intuitive Machines founder and entities affiliated with Inflection Point ($26 million).

However, Intuitive Machines announced it would “will receive approximately $55 million of committed capital from an affiliate of its sponsor and company founders.” The Houston-based company made no mention of the $301 million that was to have come from Inflection Point. The omission suggests that it’s likely that number of Inflection Point investors got their money back rather than own shares in the merged company.

Space SPAC Index
March 7, 2023

CompanyFirst Trading DayOpening Share PriceHighPrice (3/7/23)
Arqit (NAS: ARQQ)
Sept. 7, 2021$9.25$41.52 (9/23/21) $1.31
Astra Space (NAS: ASTR)July 1, 2021$12.30$16.95 (7/2/21)$0.51
AST SpaceMobile (NAS: ASTS)April 7, 2021$11.63$15.48 (6/30/21)$6.80 (NYS: BBAI)Dec. 8, 2021$9.84$16.12 (4/6/22)$3.02
BlackSky (NYS: BKSY)Sept. 10, 2021$11.80$13.20 (9/16/21)$1.80
Intuitive Machines (NAS: LUNR)Feb. 14, 2023$10.00$136.00$12.56
Momentus (NAS: MNTS)Aug. 13, 2021$10.8512.87
Planet Labs (NYS: PL)Dec. 8, 2021$11.25$11.65 (12/8/21)$4.51
Redwire (NYS: RDW)Sept. 3, 2021$10.70$16.98 (10/25/21)$3.77
Rocket Lab (NAS: RKLB)
Aug. 25, 2021$11.58$21.34 (9/9/21) $4.40
Satellogic (NAS: SATL)Jan. 26, 2022$9.19$10.92 (5/4/22) $2.58
Satixfy (NYS: SATX)Oct. 28, 2022$8.29$51.70
Spire (NYS: SPIR)Aug. 17, 2021$10.25 $19.50 (9/22/21)$0.98
Terran Orbital (NYS: LLAP)March 28, 2022$12.69$12.69 (3/28/22) $$2.26
Virgin Galactic (NYS: SPCE)Oct. 28, 2019$11.79$62.80 (2/4/21)$5.31
Virgin Orbit (NAS: VORB)Dec. 30, 2021$8.525$11.28 (1/11/22)$1.12
Stock Price Source: Google Finance

Rocket Lab’s Revenue Soars, Net Loss Rises

Rocket Lab (NAS: RKLB) reported $211 million in revenue for 2022, an increase of 239% over the previous year. The company’s fourth quarter revenue was $51.8 million, an 88% year-over-year increase.

Rocket Lab had a net loss of $135.9 million for 2022, an increase from $117.3 million the previous year.

Rocket Lab set a new company record with nine launches in 2022. The company completed its first mission beyond low Earth orbit when it launched NASA’s (Cislunar Autonomous Positioning System Technology Operations and Navigation Experiment (CAPSTONE) spacecraft to the moon.

Electron rocket on the launch pad at the Mid-Atlantic Regional Spaceport. (Credit: Rocket Lab)

Rocket Lab also announced it has established a new wholly-owned subsidiary, Rocket Lab Australia, to serve that country’s growing space industry.

The window for Rocket Lab’s second Electron launch from the Mid-Atlantic Regional Spaceport (MARS) in Virgin will open on March 11. The “Stronger Together” mission will deploy two 100-kg class satellites in the Capella Space synthetic aperture radar (SAR) constellation. Rocket Lab completed its maiden launch from MARS on Jan. 24.

On Feb. 28, Rocket Lab announced it had signed a deal with Capella Space for a “rapid succession of four Electron missions” to deploy the company’s Acadia SAR satellites. The launches will each deploy a single satellite beginning in the second half of 2023.

WhiteKnightTwo on approach to Spaceport America. (Credit: Virgin Galactic)

WhiteKnightTwo Returns to New Mexico

Virgin Galactic’s (NYS: SPCE) WhiteKnightTwo VMS Eve returned to its operating base last week at Spaceport America after a 16-month overhaul at the Mojave Air and Space Port at Rutan Field in California. The return sets the stage for completing the flight test program of SpaceShipTwo VSS Unity and beginning to fly paid customers in the second quarter.

Virgin Galactic reported much higher losses for the fourth quarter and full year than in 2021. Company officials attributed the higher loss to the overhaul of VMS Eve and the ramp up of work on new SpaceShipTwo and WhiteKnightTwo vehicles. The company also didn’t fly any paying customers or microgravity experiments on suborbital flights.

Virgin Galactic Revenue & Net Loss
Fourth Quarters & Full Years, 2021-22

Q4 2022Q4 202120222021
Net Loss$150,820,000$80,797,000$500,152,000$352,899,000

While Virgin Galactic’s loss increased, the company said it has $980 million in cash and cash equivalents. At the 2022 burn rate, that would last the company well into 2024 without counting revenues generated by monthly SpaceShipTwo flights.

Read more about Virgin Galactic’s plans and earnings report here.

Astra Space Reveals Cause of Launch Failure

Astra (NAS: ASTR) said that a breach in the second stage combustion chamber resulted in the failure of its Rocket 3.3 last June and the loss of two NASA Time-Resolved Observations of Precipitation structure and storm Intensity with a Constellation of Smallsats (TROPICS) spacecraft.

“Our analysis showed that the anomalous fuel consumption during the upper stage flight was due to a combustion chamber wall burn-through that occurred 18 seconds into upper stage flight. Flight data showed that the burn-through was precipitated by a substantial blockage of the fuel injector. The mechanics of combustion and regenerative cooling are complex and this failure did not have an immediately apparent root cause, so extensive testing and analysis was required to recreate the failure mode and to understand both how the injector blockage was created and how it led to a burn-through,” the company said in an update.

Astra abandoned further launches of the failure-prone Rocket 3.3 in favor of developing the more powerful Rocket 4 booster. NASA removed the remaining four TROPICS satellites from Astra’s manifest and booked a pair of Rocket Lab Electron flights. NASA said it would launch other payloads aboard a future Astra flight.

AST SpaceMobile Teams with Fairwinds

AST SpaceMobile (NAS: ASTR) is teaming with Fairwinds Technologies LLC to explore jointly marketing satellite-to-phone services to the military market.

AST SpaceMobile is deploying a constellation of satellites to provide communications directly to cell phones. Fairwinds develops end-to-end communications solutions for the defense and civilian public sector agencies.

“Our space-based cellular broadband network is being designed to offer new capabilities, including potential applications for the Tactical Military Communications mission scope, which could offer a next-generation, resilient alternative to existing technologies,” said Chris Ivory, Chief Commercial Officer of AST SpaceMobile.