TAMPA, Fla. — Terran Orbital expects to get $180 million this year from Rivada Space as it prepares to build 300 satellites for the venture, even as plans to fund the full $2.4 billion manufacturing contract remain under wraps.
It would be the first significant revenues Terran Orbital has gained from Rivada under a contract set to deliver most of the $2.6 billion in sales in the manufacturer’s pipeline, providing a major boost for a company that raised less than hoped in its stock market debut last year.
Declan Ganley, CEO of U.S.-based wireless technology firm Rivada Networks, which owns Rivada Space, said in February it has funding commitments from existing and new investors for its proposed connectivity network. He said in June the company is in talks with the U.S. Ex-Im Bank for financial support.
During Terran Orbital’s Aug. 15 earnings call, H.C. Wainwright & Co analyst Scott Buck said Rivada’s vagueness about its plans for financing the constellation has caused “investor hesitation around the contract.”
“We’ve done extreme due diligence on their financials,” Terran Orbital CEO Marc Bell said during the call.
“We can’t disclose [the] information we know,” Bell said, “but we are very much aware of who their funding is and how much it’s for, and where it’s coming from.”
Rivada senior vice president for corporate communications Brian Carney declined to comment on its financing plans when contacted by SpaceNews, adding: “We remain confident we can meet our commitments to our suppliers.”
In the earnings call, Bell pointed to Rivada’s recent success with international regulators to waive a requirement to deploy at least 10% of its proposed constellation by September. Rivada has not launched any satellites so far and its contracts with Terran Orbital and SpaceX do not call for launches to start until 2025.
The venture has plans with the International Telecommunication Union (ITU) for 576 satellites in total, and half of these must be in orbit by mid-2026 under deployment rules tied to its spectrum licenses that remain in place following the 10% waiver.
Terran Orbital’s manufacturing contract with Rivada includes an option to purchase an additional 300 satellites for the low Earth orbit (LEO) network.
Shares in Terran Orbital started trading on the New York Stock Exchange in March 2022 after merging with a special purpose acquisition company (SPAC) called Tailwind Two Acquisition Corp, a public shell company that had $345 million in capital before the deal.
However, Terran Orbital only received about $29 million from Tailwind Two’s cash-in-trust because many of the SPAC’s investors chose to get their money back instead of holding stock in the merged company. The level of investor redemptions has been high for multiple space companies that raised funds by merging with a SPAC in recent years.
Terran Orbital raised $255 million in total proceeds from the SPAC merger when including a concurrent private investment in public equity PIPE, supported by companies including Lockheed Martin.
Going down the SPAC route “was a big mistake,” Bell said during the Space Show podcast Aug. 11. “[U]nfortunately the money that was there never materialized and we went public without the money that we expected.”
Bell said Terran Orbitaly is on course to record positive EBITDA — Earnings Before Interest, Taxes, Depreciation, and Amortization — for the first quarter of 2024, following the Rivada contract and a smaller deal with Lockheed Martin to deliver 10 satellites for the missile-tracking LEO constellation the U.S. Space Force’s Space Development Agency is building with low-cost satellites procured from multiple commercial vendors.
Terran Orbital recorded $32.2 million in revenue for the three months to the end of June 30, up 51% compared with the same period in 2022.
But it recorded an adjusted EBITDA loss of $21.4 million for the quarter, compared with a loss of $14.8 million last year, as the company invests to ramp up production facilities.
Time to ramp up
Bell also said during Terran Orbital’s earning call that it had completed a systems requirements review for Rivada in July, marking the first step of a design phase that represents $460 million of the contract.
The company plans to conduct the preliminary design review for Rivada’s 500-kilogram satellites before the end of the year in the final major step before production.
There are orders for more than 370 satellites in Terran Orbital’s backlog, according to Bell. He said waiting customers will benefit from a newly operational facility in Irvine, California, that has increased manufacturing capacity from 10 to 20 satellites per month.
Terran Orbital also aims to finish commissioning another facility in Irvine next year that would enable it to produce 42 satellites a month across the company, including solar panel and payload assemblies.
With incoming cash from Rivada, Bell said the company does not expect to need to raise any more funds to scale up its business.
He also said Terran Orbital anticipates about 80% of its $2.6 billion backlog will be converted into revenue in the next two and a half years.