WASHINGTON — Intuitive Machines says it is on firmer financial ground after its first lunar landing as the company works on its next mission and pursues other contracts.

The Houston-based company reported March 21 an operating loss of $56.2 million in 2023 on $75.5 million. The revenue was slightly lower than the $85.9 million the company reported in 2022, when it had an operating loss of $5.5 million.

The company ended the year with a cash balance of just $4.5 million, but that grew to $54.6 million by March 1. Steve Vontur, acting chief financial officer, said on an earnings call the increase came from the exercise of stock warrants by an unnamed institutional investor and strategic investments.

“We are confident that the cash balance carries us through the year. That’s with no additional wins,” Steve Altemus, chief executive of Intuitive Machines, said on the call.

The company, he argued, is in a “fantastic position” to win additional contracts. Several could come as soon as the second quarter, such as a new task order from NASA’s Commercial Lunar Payload Services (CLPS) program, the agency’s Near Space Network Services program for cislunar communications services and the Lunar Terrain Vehicle (LTV) program.

NASA announced March 19 that it will select the company, or companies, to participate in the LTV program April 3. Intuitive Machines submitted a proposal, competing against several established and entrepreneurial companies, offering a rover delivered to the moon on the company’s Nova-D lander.

Altemus said that while LTV has a total value of more than $4 billion, the initial contracts to be announced next month will be feasibility studies valued at about $30 million each over one year. Intuitive Machines is leading a team that includes AVL, Boeing, Michelin and Northrop Grumman.

The company is starting to generate revenue from the OMES III engineering support contract from NASA it won last year. The company recognized $12.5 million in revenue from one month of work on that contract last year, and Vontur said that amount should be the average monthly revenue that contract generates for the next year.

The contract is part of efforts by Intuitive Machines to diversify its business beyond lunar landers, but also carries some risk of its own. That contract includes support for NASA’s On-orbit Servicing, Assembly and Manufacturing (OSAM) 1 mission at the Goddard Space Flight Center, a satellite servicing mission that has suffered significant delays and cost overruns.

“We’re working very closely with NASA to put that project back in the box and get it launched,” Altemus said, noting that OSAM-1 was fully funded in the final fiscal year 2024 spending bill passed earlier this month.

He did not mention, though, that NASA announced March 1 its intent to cancel OSAM-1, winding down work by the end of the current fiscal year. NASA included only $11 million for OSAM-1 in its fiscal year 2025 budget proposal March 11 to cover final closeout of the project.

Altemus acknowledged that there is “a little uncertainty there” regarding OSAM-1, but that if the mission does not go forward NASA would provide the company with other, unspecified work under that contract.

Lunar lander updates

Altemus said the company is continuing to review data from its IM-1 lunar lander mission, which touched down on the moon Feb. 22 and, despite tilting on its side, still returned data from most of its payloads. NASA and the company declared the mission an “unqualified success” as the mission wound down.

Altemus said Intuitive Machines currently expects to get 95% of the award payments under its CLPS task order for the landing, holding back 5% because one payload did not return data. He said the company is talking with NASA about alternative data it could provide to meet that payload’s requirements and earn that remaining 5%.

He said the company has identified areas that “needed adjustment” for the upcoming IM-2 lander mission, including antennas and cameras. “We don’t see any impact to the schedule based on the changes from IM-1. They’re fairly straightforward,” he said.

IM-2 is currently scheduled for November, but he said that could slip in part because NASA is considering moving the landing location slightly in the lunar south polar region to one that may be more likely for payloads on the lander to have access to water ice. “That might have a marginal impact” on the schedule, he said. “We are still planning for a 2024 mission for IM-2.”

The company also has not given up hope of reestablishing contact with IM-1 after the lunar night. Speaking at the American Astronautical Society’s Goddard Space Science Symposium March 21, Trent Martin, senior vice president of space systems at the company, said solar panels on the lander should have started receiving sunlight March 20 after the extended lunar night.

“We have been listening since then and we will continue to listen,” he said, but had not detected any signals from it yet. “I think it’s highly unlikely that it will, but there is a possibility and we will listen for the next couple of days.”

Jeff Foust writes about space policy, commercial space, and related topics for SpaceNews. He earned a Ph.D. in planetary sciences from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and a bachelor’s degree with honors in geophysics and planetary science...