New Bankruptcy Document Chronicles Masten Space Systems’ Failed Efforts to Sell Company, Inability to Raise Money

A spacecraft creates its own landing pad using the in-Flight Alumina Spray Technique system. (Credit: Masten Space Systems)

Updated on 8/12/2022 at 1:40 p.m. with information about Astrobotic Technology’s loan to Masten and initial bid for the bankrupt company’s assets.

by Douglas Messier
Managing Editor

MOJAVE, Calif. — A new court document reveals that an unidentified company nearly purchased now-bankrupt Masten Space Systems earlier this year, but it ultimately backed away due to financial concerns about Masten Mission 1 (MM1), the company’s program to deliver a small rover and a suite of instruments to the south pole of the moon under a NASA contract.

“On April 29, Company A informed Masten that it did not plan to proceed with a deal because of the substantial liabilities recognized to date and additional future projected losses associated with MM1,” an Aug. 10 filing in Delaware Bankruptcy Court said.


Former Employee Hits Bankrupt Masten Space Systems with Lawsuit Alleging Racial Discrimination, Retaliation for Exposing Alleged Fraudulent Billing

by Douglas Messier
Managing Editor

MOJAVE, Calif. — A former top employee at bankrupt Masten Space Systems has filed a lawsuit against the company and its former CEO, Sean Mahoney, alleging they denied him promotions and pay raises due to his race, and retaliated against him for exposing fraudulent billing on two federal contracts in 2020.

Reuben Garcia, who formerly served as director of technical operations/manager of landing systems before departing the company earlier this year, filed the lawsuit in Kern County Superior Court in November 2021. He is seeking attorney’s fees, punitive damages, and compensatory damages for “economic losses, humiliation and mental and emotional distress”. Garcia has requested a jury trial.


Cash-strapped Masten Space Furloughs Employees, Moon Landing Mission at Risk

Masten’s XL-1 lunar lander will deliver science and technology payloads to the Moon’s South Pole. (Credits: Masten Space Systems)

Updated on July 15 to clarify layoffs and furloughs.
Updated on July 15 with a statement from NASA.

by Douglas Messier
Managing Editor

MOJAVE, Calif. — Cash-strapped Masten Space Systems has furloughed all of its staff, putting at risk both the company and a $75.9 million NASA-funded mission to deliver the MoonRanger rover and eight scientific payloads to the lunar surface aboard Masten’s XL-1 lander late next year.

“XL-1 is basically dead. To my knowledge, everyone who was working exclusively on XL1 has been laid off,” a source familiar with the situation told Parabolic Arc in a written response to questions. The source requested anonymity because he was not authorized to speak about the matter.


SpaceX to Launch Masten Lunar Mission in 2022

Masten’s XL-1 lunar lander will deliver science and technology payloads to the Moon’s South Pole in 2022. (Credits: Masten Space Systems)

MOJAVE, Calif., August 26, 2020 (Masten PR) –Masten Space Systems announced today that it has selected SpaceX to launch Masten Mission One (MM1). As part of MM1, Masten’s lunar lander will deliver nine NASA-sponsored science and technology demonstration experiments and several commercial payloads to the lunar south pole.


Meet 8 Teams Sending Payloads to the Moon on Masten’s Lander

Masten’s XL-1 lunar lander will deliver science and technology payloads to the Moon’s South Pole in 2022. (Credits: Masten Space Systems)

MOJAVE, Calif. (Masten Space Systems PR) — Imagine having the opportunity to send your payload to the lunar surface. Not next decade, but in 2022!

Well, that’s the incredible opportunity that the NASA Commercial Lunar Payload Services (CLPS) project — and Masten Space Systems — has presented for 8 visionary teams and their instruments. Each and every one is cool in their own way and we couldn’t be prouder to be the lunar lander company that will set them down safely on the surface of the Moon. 


Masten Partners with MSBAI for AI-Augmented Space Flight

LOS ANGELES, Oct. 8, 2019 (Masten Space Systems PR) — Masten Space Systems announced a new partnership with MSBAI to integrate cognitive artificial intelligence capabilities for autonomous space flight applications.

Sean Mahoney, CEO of Masten Space Systems Inc. said, “Masten Space Systems has long been a pioneer in lean ground crews and CONOPS for space launch and landing. We’re excited about our new partnership with MSBAI and what we can do with GURU to take us to the next level of pioneering spacecraft operations with minimal terrestrial crews, for lunar delivery missions, and for deep space robotic missions.”


Masten Space Systems is a leader in vertical landing technology and EDL test beds with missions to the moon starting in 2021.


MSBAI is solving the reason why 92% of product developers & manufacturers don’t use high performance computing in engineering — with GURU, The Ultimate Engineering AI Assistant!

For more information, go to

NSRC Day 3 Summary

Test flights will eventually take place on Masten Space Systems' Xaero vehicle. (Credit: Masten Space Systems)
Test flights will eventually take place on Masten Space Systems’ Xaero vehicle. (Credit: Masten Space Systems)

The Next Generation Suborbital Researchers Conference finished up today in Colorado. There were provider presentations from Masten Space Systems and Virgin Galactic. Three researchers also presented results from suborbital microgravity flights.

Below are summaries of the sessions based on Tweets.

CSF Elects Frank DiBello as New Chairman, Adds New Associate Member

Space Florida President Frank DiBello
Space Florida President Frank DiBello

Washington D.C. – The Commercial Spaceflight Federation is pleased to announce that it has elected Frank DiBello, President and CEO of Space Florida, as its new Chairman succeeding Stuart Witt, CEO of Mojave Air & Space Port. At its semi-annual Board of Directors meeting this week in Jacksonville, Florida, the CSF also elected Mike Gold of Bigelow Aerospace and Sean Mahoney of Masten Space Systems to the Executive Committee of the Board, joining DiBello, Tim Hughes (SpaceX), Rob Meyerson (Blue Origin) and Mark Sirangelo (Sierra Nevada Corporation), who were reelected.

Also at the meeting, the full Board approved adding Interflight Global Corporation to the associate membership of the organization.


ISPCS Panel Discussion: The Marketplace

ispcs_logoPanel Discussion: The Marketplace


Raymond Vogel,  Business Development Principal Jacobs Technology, Inc.


  • Monique Jacobson, Secretary of Tourism, State of New Mexico
  • Andrew Nelson, Chief Operating Officer, XCOR Aerospace
  • Sean Mahoney, Chief Executive Officer, Masten Space Systems
  • Bob Allen, Executive Director, Innovation, Design, Entertainment, Art, and Storytelling (IDEAS)



Colin Ake Leaves Masten Space

masten_logo2Masten Space Systems Director of Business Development Colin Ake is departing after 4.5 years with the company. CEO Sean Mahoney just made the announcement on the company’s website.

Joy for Colin as he leaves us to return to his alma mater, Georgia Tech, in a role as a facilitator and champion for technology transfer. If you haven’t encountered Georgia Tech’s VentureLab or the sister group, Advanced Technology Development Center (ATDC), they are the anchors of GT’s incubator program – one that is widely recognized as one of the best in the US. (And now we have another space entrepreneur in their midst…)

In the same post, Ake wrote:

The last three and a half years (four and a half, if you count my time as an intern) have given me the unique opportunity to pour my blood, sweat and tears into Masten. This place is awesome and I love it here. After helping organize the chaos into (slightly) less chaos, building strong relationships with people across the industry, and helping build an incredible team, another challenge beckons.

Where I’m headed: GT’s VentureLab was just recently named the #2 university business incubator in the world. They focus on building hard science and hardware startups forged from technology found deep in the heart of research labs across campus. I have a lot to learn and a lot of experience from Masten to build upon. I’ll be back at the heart of a small company soon enough, but for now I’m off to help build many other companies.

Thanks to Dave and Joel for bringing me on and to everyone at Masten I’ve met along the way. And of course thanks to everyone I’ve met in industry for good conversation and great friendships we’ve struck up over the past couple of years. When you’re in Atlanta, come see me over at VentureLab!