Intuitive Machines stock plummets after moon lander tips over

Feb 26, 2024

By Akash Sriram

(Reuters) -Shares of Intuitive Machines slumped on Monday after the space exploration firm said communications with its Odysseus moon lander, which had fallen onto its side, are expected to cease on Tuesday.

In an update on the status of the mission, the company said that flight controllers will continue to communicate with Odysseus until Tuesday morning, which will effectively cut short its mission five days after touchdown.

The Houston-based company, which became the first private company to land on the moon and the first from the United States since 1972, said all but one of its six NASA science and technology payloads were facing upwards and receptive to communications.

The payload that had tipped sideways contains an art piece comprising miniature stainless steel sculptures by artist Jeff Koons, Intuitive Machines said, adding that the rest of the payloads are expected to carry out their scientific objectives.

Intuitive fell about 35% to $6.27 on Monday, more than offsetting gains on Friday, when nearly 99 million shares exchanged hands.

On Friday, the total value of traded shares reached $1.01 billion, surpassing the company’s market value of about $960 million, according to LSEG data.

The company’s shares, which went public about a year earlier, are vulnerable to high levels of volatility as only 18% of the stock is available to trade.

Short interest for the stock stands at 13.7% of free float, according to analytics firm S3 Partners, which added that it has seen a steady increase in demand to short the stock so far in 2024.

Intuitive Machines’ shares were also among the most trending tickers on retail trader forum Stocktwits.

“There is a lot of retail activity driving volatility in the stock right now, and probably shorting associated with that … would be helpful to get more color on the reliability of (moon lander) comms,” Canaccord Genuity analyst Austin Moeller said.

(Reporting by Akash Sriram in Bengaluru; Editing by Tasim Zahid, Shounak Dasgupta and Maju Samuel)

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