Intuitive Machines stock jumps in wild trading after moon landing

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Intuitive Machines’ Nova-C lunar lander on display at NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center.

NASA

Shares of Intuitive Machines jumped 16% in trading Friday after the company’s successful first moon landing.

Intuitive Machines’ Nova-C cargo moon lander known as “Odysseus” on Thursday became the first privately developed spacecraft to land on the lunar surface — as well as the first U.S. spacecraft to soft-land on the moon in more than 50 years.

The company, based in Houston, Texas, confirmed that the IM-1 mission lander was standing upright and sending data back to Earth.

“Odysseus has found his new home,” Tim Crain, Intuitive Machines’ CTO and IM-1 mission director, said Thursday evening from the company’s mission control.

Intuitive Machines stock initially ripped 40% higher before paring gains with heavy trading volume to close at $9.59 a share. The company has a market valuation of about $1 billion.

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The company’s stock has been rallying over the past month as excitement built in the lead-up to and progress of the IM-1 mission. Intuitive Machines went public via a SPAC a year ago and shares had steadily slid to all-time lows near $2 in January.

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Intuitive Machines stock over the last 5 days.

Wall Street analysts emphasized to CNBC ahead of the landing that the unprecedented nature of the event could lead to volatile momentum trading.

“We’ve never witnessed a publicly traded company go through [a moon landing attempt]. So this is new, not just for investors, but for us analysts as well,” Cantor Fitzgerald’s Andres Sheppard said before the landing.

In a note to investors after the landing, Cantor Fitzgerald increased its price target on Intuitive Machines’ stock to $13 a share from $4 a share.

“In our view, this validates the company’s technology and adds significant credibility to the business. As such, we believe Intuitive Machines is now very well positioned to continue to capitalize on the growing commercial space economy, and on subsequent launches,” Sheppard wrote in the note.

The IM-1 lander “Odysseus” in lunar orbit on Feb. 21, 2024.

Intuitive Machines

Intuitive Machines, in a statement Friday morning, said that “Odysseus is alive and well,” noting that the lander is charging its solar panels.

“Flight controllers are communicating and commanding the vehicle to download science data,” the company said.

The company and NASA plan to hold a press conference at 5 p.m. ET on Friday.

The Odysseus lander carried 12 government and commercial payloads — six of which are for NASA under a $118 million contract through the agency’s Commercial Lunar Payload Services, or CLPS, initiative.

Intuitive Machines has already won two more CLPS contracts for future lander missions, with IM-2 expected to launch as early as the second half of this year.

Additionally, the company has part of a five-year $719 million contract to provide engineering services to NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Maryland. Analysts expect the Goddard contract is worth about $11 million per month in revenue for Intuitive Machines, with Cantor Fitzgerald estimating the company will bring in about $338 million in fiscal year 2024 revenue.

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