Intuitive Machines shares tumble as moon mission nears premature end

Feb 27, 2024

(Reuters) – Shares of Intuitive Machines fell 24% on Tuesday as the company’s lunar mission neared a premature end after a sideways touchdown hindered communications and solar charging capability of its moon lander Odysseus.

If premarket losses hold, it would wipe out nearly all the gains Intuitive Machines made last week after it made the first U.S. touchdown on the lunar surface in more than half a century and the first ever achieved by the private sector.

The stock fell 35% on Monday, its worst drop in about a year, after the company warned communications with Odysseus are expected to cease on Tuesday, just five days after it landed some 300 km from the moon’s south pole.

Only about 18% of Intuitive Machines’ outstanding shares are available to trade, according to LSEG data, making the stock that went public last year susceptible to high levels of volatility.

Intuitive had said on Friday that Odysseus, which is carrying payloads for its main customer NASA, would have enough power to operate for nine to 10 days under a “best-case scenario”.

It is not clear yet as to how much scientific data might be lost due to the shortened length of the mission.

Intuitive has plans to use a Nova C lander, the same class as Odysseus for further missions. Its next mission, the IM-2, is set for launch later this year and will carry research tools to drill ice from below the moon’s surface.

The company, which said it spent about $100 million on the lander, has ambitions to lower the cost of access to the moon and received $118 million from NASA under its Commercial Lunar Payload Services program.

(Reporting by Akash Sriram in Bengaluru; Editing by Shounak Dasgupta)

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