TAMPA, Fla. — Terran Orbital told investors Jan. 2 it has received a past-due payment for the 300 satellites it is building for Rivada Space Networks, but it is unclear whether this covered the full $180 million it expected by the end of 2023 as future installments for the $2.4 billion project are kept under wraps.
The amount was due for completing an unspecified program milestone, Terran Orbital announced in a brief Jan. 2 news release, and means Rivada Space has paid all outstanding invoices to date.
Terran Orbital had told shareholders Oct. 26 it expected to get a $180 million payment from its biggest customer before the end of 2023 after getting more than $5 million to start work on a constellation targeting SpaceX launches from 2025.
In a separate Jan. 2 news release, Terran Orbital said it expects to report more than $70 million in cash as of Dec. 31, $31 million more than three months earlier, following what it said were key customer payments at year-end.
The year-end balance gives Terran Orbital a “strong financial foundation that we believe will enable us to continue to execute on our strategic and operational objectives,” said Marc Bell, Terran Orbital co-founder, chair, and CEO.
The Boca Raton, Florida-headquartered satellite maker also had more than $70 million of cash on hand at the time of its Oct. 26 virtual town hall meeting with shareholders, Bell said during the event.
The company has not yet disclosed expenses for the last three months of 2023 and Bell declined to say how much of the cash at year-end came from Rivada Space.
“The goal is demonstrate to the market that cash is stable and no need to raise additional capital,” he told SpaceNews via email.
Terran Orbital’s shares closed Jan. 2 at $1.26, up more than 10% on their previous day of trading.
The shares have declined from around $10 following their March 2022 debut, and the New York Stock Exchange recently told Terran Orbital it risked being removed from the platform after shares dipped below $1 in September.
The manufacturer started trading on NYSE after merging with a special purpose acquisition company (SPAC), a financial vehicle for rushing businesses to the public market. Being linked to space companies that have underperformed after recently merging with a SPAC has been a major drag on Terran Orbital’s stock performance, according to Bell.
More payments incoming
Terran Orbital said Jan. 2 it expects to receive more milestone payments from Rivada Space this year.
However, at the request of its privately held customer, Terran Orbital does not plan to give updates on the status, timing, and amounts of these payments outside of what the manufacturer is required to disclose as part of its quarterly and annual earnings reports — unless required by the U.S. financial regulator.
Terran Orbital also said it continues to expect to meet its delivery obligations for the 500-kilogram satellites.
Rivada Space, the German subsidiary of U.S.-based wireless technology firm Rivada Networks, has plans for 576 satellites in low Earth orbit and must deploy 288 of them by mid-2026 to comply with its regulatory license.
Brian Carney, head of corporate communications for the Rivada group, said the company will not expand on what Terran Orbital announced Jan. 2, “except to confirm that we look forward to a busy year working with the great team at Terran to get our constellation built.”
Strategic review in the works
Investors collectively holding 8.4% of Terran Orbital, including three engineers who co-founded its primary operating subsidiary Tyvak, called for leadership changes and a strategic review in October to reverse the company’s share price decline.
In response, Terran Orbital’s board of independent directors reiterated their support for the management team, who own stakes in the company. TechCrunch reported in November that the manufacturer had also launched a lawsuit against one of the three engineers, former chief technology officer Austin Williams, alleging he failed to give proper notice of plans to leave the company in November 2022, following a disagreement about the company’s direction.
Terran Orbital later said in a Dec. 11 regulatory filing that it was conducting a formal review of strategic alternatives, which may include an investment, sale of the company, or a “take private” transaction.
The 8-K regulatory filing came after a Wall Street Journal report citing sources said Terran Orbital was seeking bids from potential buyers by the end of 2023.
TechCrunch also reported Dec. 11 that Bell had told employees it was not looking for a buyer, and that he would buy the company with a business partner if the board did decide on a take-private deal.
“My 8-K filing is correct,” Bell told SpaceNews in a Jan. 2 email, adding: “All other information is not.”