Major Customer of Terran Orbital Nears Funding Goal for Multi-Billion Dollar Satellite Constellation

Terran Orbital may be close to receiving a major payment from its biggest customer, CEO Marc Bell announced internally at a company-wide meeting earlier this month. Rivada Space Networks is in the final stages of closing funding to help fund a mega-constellation to be built by Terran at a cost of $2.4 billion, revenues that currently make up the vast majority of Terran’s backlog.

While Terran is pursuing other lucrative contracts that could comprise billions in work, its $2.4 billion contract with Rivada is by far the largest it has secured so far. Earlier this quarter, Terran had to adjust its full-year financial outlook after Rivada delayed paying an incremental $180 million toward that total contract award.

The Terran chair and CEO communicated the news to staff during the December 19 meeting.

“I had dinner with [Rivada CEO] Declan Ganley last week in DC,” Bell told staff during the meeting, a recording of which was obtained by TechCrunch. “He told me they expect to close tomorrow on their funding. He showed me the documents. I saw them, I read them. He texted me this morning and maybe Thursday, Friday now. […] As long as it’s by Christmas, I’ll be happy. Nothing wrong with getting a good Christmas present.”

Rivada, a German subsidiary of U.S.-based Rivada Networks, contracted with Terran to build 300 satellites for the mega-constellation under a $2.4 billion agreement in February of this year. Rivada has a separate deal with SpaceX to launch the satellites starting in April 2025.

Of course, Christmas has come and gone and neither company has made any public announcements about the financing. TechCrunch reached out to both for comment and neither responded by press time. Bell said later in the meeting that even if Rivada closes the funding, the two entities would need to make a modification on their contract, which could delay payment terms and public announcements.

“He’s being very transparent to me and so I have no reason not to believe him,” Bell said of Ganley. “But unfortunately, he’s not the one writing the check, somebody else is writing the check to him. But if he gets a check, I have to assume we’ll get a check. But we do have to do a contract mod. So that’s the one thing that might hold us up, because we have to do a mod on the contract. […] But we’ll at least get paid on the invoice that’s owed, the $9 million invoice. But I want to get the big check, as everyone else does, because that will dramatically help our share price and everything else in our world.”

In an investor call in November, Bell said that Rivada’s funding and payment delays came as “quite a surprise” to both companies. He added that Rivada’s funding source is “a large sovereign” — presumably a sovereign wealth fund — and that the two companies expect the money to close eventually. 

As of November, Terran reported a backlog of future work of $2.6 billion, of which $2.4 billion is from the Rivada contract. Even without the expected milestone payment, Bell told staff that he still expects the company to generate $130 million in revenue this year, a notable increase from the $94 million the company made in 2022.

The company is also pursing other high-value contract opportunities, including with the Space Development Agency’s constellation known as “Proliferated Warfighter Space Architecture.” Terran has already built and delivered satellites for the initial tranche of the constellation, Tranche 0, and is currently building 42 satellite buses for Tranche 1 and will build an additional 32 buses for Tranche 2. Bell said the company will also be going after an additional award for a variant of the Tranche 2 satellites called Gamma, possibly as the prime contractor on that award (for the others, Terran is a subcontractor of prime winner Lockheed Martin). 

“We feel very good about Gamma and how we’re going to win. We are contemplating priming Gamma as opposed to just being a sub […] But right now it is even-money odds we may be finally be a prime on these things. And that would be huge. It would change the dynamic. But I haven’t made a decision, we’re going to sit down and talk to Lockheed about it.”

Bell also told staff that the company is still having conversations about taking Terran private, but that the goal would be to “go private, and then take it public again the traditional way and not have this dumbass market cap like we have today,” he said.

Terran Orbital’s stock price has cratered since it went public via SPAC — a reverse merger with a special purpose acquisition company — in March of last year. The company debuted with a stock price of $10.96, but today the shares are trading for around $1.22.

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