Astrobotic expands with acquisition of Masten Space Systems
As per recent reports Pittsburg based Astrobotic has taken over Masten Space Systems. Masten Company had filed for bankruptcy protection at July end. This comes after a successful $4.5 million bid for Masten assets in the Delaware bankruptcy court earlier in the month. This takeover includes Masten’s total portfolio of space technologies. It will include its vertical take-off and landing rocketry and propulsion test centers.
With this merger, the two companies’ combined workforce will be over 200 employees. Some of these employees will continue to work at Masten Headquarters in Mojave, California. David Masten who was the founder and CTO of Masten would be joining Astrobotic in the post of chief engineer. Astrobotic would continue the suborbital operations at Masten’s headquarters.
Simultaneously they would be continuing the development of the Xogdor rocket. This is the newest of Masten’s terrestrial landers. It can be used by both commercial customers and the government to do validation of technologies like landing systems and integration of the payload. Masten also does maintain a propulsion test stand and this will continue its operation under the new ownership.
John Thornton has praised Masten’s suborbital launch vehicles and propulsion test centers by stating that they are the national assets for the space industry. He advised that they are very excited to operate and expand these services for governments, companies, and space agencies internationally.
Masten would also be developing a series of lunar landers. Astrobotic is already sending two landers to the moon under their contracts with NASA. They will definitely benefit from this influx of related tech. It is currently unclear if Astronotic would fulfill Masten’s first lunar mission.
The Delaware bankruptcy held an auction of Masten’s assets on September 6. There were additional bids from two companies. Intuitive Machine had bid for $2.7 million for a SpaceX launch credit. Impulse Space had bid $750,000 for testing equipment.
Masten Mission is currently a part of NASA’s Commercial Lunar Payload Services program and it is scheduled for 2023. It will be very interesting to see further development post the merger of both companies.