Intuitive Machines prepares for first lunar mission, faces challenge to win NASA contract

Intuitive Machines is preparing for its first lunar mission to the moon’s south pole in the third quarter of this year, while also facing an outcry over a major NASA contract award, executives told investors Thursday.

The company has made “significant progress” in testing for the maiden IM-1 mission, Intuitive Machines CEO Steve Altemus said during a first-quarter earnings call. He added that he expects the lander to be on the launch pad “in the middle to late third quarter.” During that mission, the company will attempt to land its spacecraft, Nova-C, on the lunar surface, and will be the first wholly private company to do so. The company is currently evaluating the moon landing site for a follow-up mission.

Intuitive Machines went public through a merger with a special purpose acquisition company in February. The company reported first-quarter revenue of $18.2 million, with a cash balance of $46.8 million at the end of the quarter. In addition, Intuitive Machines reported a backlog of $156.1 million, of which $107.7 million is anticipated to be converted to revenue before the end of the year.

“We have always been and will continue to be a capital efficient company,” said Chief Financial Officer Erik Sallee. “We will allocate capital to the highest risk-adjusted returns in a disciplined manner. As a private company, we are mostly self-financed, so we know how to live within our means.”

The company also disclosed that it was facing a protest over its award of a $719 million NASA contract, though Altemus told investors that protests are fairly common in the acquisition process.

“We know from the statistics that less than 10% of those protests are actually quashed, so we have great confidence in our value offerings to the government,” Altemus said. “We are confident that once we get past this 100-day protest period for the [Government Accountability Office] that the prize will remain”.

Science Applications International Corporation filed the protest against the award on May 8. The company did not make a copy of the protest available, nor does the Government Accountability Office, the federal office where companies can protest contract awards, post it on its website. .

NASA awarded the $719 million, five-year contract to a joint venture of Intuitive Machines and KBR called Space Networks Solution. The contract, Omnibus Multidiscipline Engineering Services (OMES) III, is intended to broadly fund engineering work related to the Joint Polar Satellite System and other NASA projects. NASA announced the winning bidder on April 19.

Provided the GAO awards the protest in favor of Intuitive Machines, the company said it will begin work on the contract in the fourth quarter. With it, the lunar company’s full-year revenue could range from $174 million to $268 million.

The company, which trades under the ticker symbol $LUNR, was trading at $8.25 at the close of markets on Thursday.


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