Business

Intuitive Machines Reports a Moon Cash Boon

Intuitive Machines' Odysseus lander in orbit above the Moon on Feb. 21. Image: Intuitive Machines
Intuitive Machines’ Odysseus lander in orbit above the Moon on Feb. 21. Image: Intuitive Machines

Touch down on the Moon, collect millions of dollars—that’s how Monopoly, space edition is played. We don’t make the rules.

Intuitive Machines reported $4.5M of cash on hand at the end of 2023, but that balance ballooned to $54.6M by March 1 when an institutional investor exercised their stock warrants after the company’s soft-but-toppled-over lunar landing in February.

The company’s current cash balance is its largest since SPAC’ing last year, providing much-needed short-term breathing room. 

Community chest: Last week, the company reported annual revenue of $79.5M in 2023 as it ticked off milestones for its three NASA Commercial Lunar Payload Services (CLPS) lander contracts and began recognizing revenue from its OMES III NASA engineering contract. The company’s Q1 sales will be bolstered by a near-total IM-1 lunar landing success, as it was able to transmit data from almost all payloads aboard. 

Get out of jail free card: The influx of cash comes at a crucial time for the company, which stomached a dizzying $75M of free cash flow burn last year.

Winner, winner Banker dinner: Intuitive Machines has two more NASA CLPS missions on the books over the next two years. NASA’s CLPS program doles out ultra-low-cost contracts (generally in the $100M range) to develop lunar landers capable of ferrying payloads to the surface of the Moon. 

  • Given awardees are tasked with covering launch expenses, the startups are left with minimal budgets to construct sophisticated landers.
  • The lost-cost structure is a great deal for NASA, but is potentially putting Intuitive Machines and other winners in the red on the first batch of contracts.

The upshot is that the low-cost requirements have led to a breakthrough in lowering transport costs to the Moon to more commercially acceptable levels.  

“The IM-1 mission fundamentally changed the economics of landing on the Moon and opened the door for a robust, thriving cislunar economy in the future,” the company wrote on X. “It achieved the intractable technical challenges of landing on the Moon through a fixed-price performance contract in a constrained time period, demonstrating unprecedented economics and efficiency.”

Intuitive Machines’ second lunar landing attempt, IM-2, is slated to launch this year. The company said it will incorporate learnings from its first flight for the mission. 
Free parking: Intuitive Machines’ is also competing—alongside partners Northrop Grumman, Boeing, AVL, Michelin, and Lunar Outpost—for NASA’s astronaut Lunar Terrain Vehicle (LTV) contract. The winner of the award will be announced next week.

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