Intuitive Machines’ post-SPAC war chest depleted by shareholder redemptions

Lunar technology company Intuitive Machines received far less cash from its merger with a special purpose acquisition company (SPAC) than it forecasted, according to filings with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission made last night.

Although Intuitive Machines said the SPAC trust could furnish the company with as much as $301 million in dry powder, shareholders opted to redeem a staggering $279.8 million prior to the transaction closing. In SPAC deals, shareholders have a right to redeem their shares — and get their money back — which can be a blow to the operating capital for the combined company. The redemptions could reflect a relative weariness amongst investors of SPACs, which saw a huge upswing in popularity in the past few years but have more recently fallen out of favor as post-SPAC companies struggle to stay afloat in the public market.

Despite the high redemptions, Intuitive Machines isn’t exactly without cash. In advance of the merger with SPAC Inflection Point Acquisition Corp., Intuitive Machines shareholders agreed to roll all of their existing equity holdings into the combined company at a value of $700 million. The transaction also came with $55 million of capital from an affiliate of Inflection Point and $26 million in PIPE, or private capital in public equity.

Intuitive Machines is trading on the NASDAQ under the ticker symbol $LUNR. The stock closed at $10.03 on its first day of trading Tuesday, and is up 12%, to $11.32, as of noon Wednesday.

Intuitive Machines announced the SPAC deal last September, telling investors that the huge injection in capital would help it accelerate its plans to kickstart a lunar economy. Intuitive Machines has already landed three NASA contracts to deliver payloads to the surface of the moon, the most of any company; the first mission, which will see the company’s IM-1 lander head to the lunar south pole, was originally scheduled for the first quarter of this year but slipped to late June.

In its SPAC deck, the company noted strong tailwinds for its business plan, including NASA’s Artemis program to return humans to the moon and the ongoing “space race” with China and Russia. Intuitive Machines projected revenues of $759 million by 2024, up from $73 million in 2021 (solely from a single NASA contract), through diversified services for the moon, including landers, data access, infrastructure and in-orbit servicing.

Specifically, the company wants to develop a much larger lander it is calling Nova-D, which would be capable of carrying 500-750 kilograms of payload to the lunar surface. It also wants to develop technology to allow its landers to stay functional through the cold lunar night, a notoriously difficult challenge for lunar exploration, but one that would give the company a major edge over its competition.

Update: The story has been updated to include details about Intuitive Machines’ stock price.