Momentus CEO resigns amid U.S. government concerns

WASHINGTON — The founding chief govt of in-space transportation firm Momentus is resigning in an effort to beat U.S. authorities issues about international management of the corporate.

Momentus introduced Jan. 25 that Mikhail Kokorich was resigning as chief govt and a member of the corporate’s board, efficient instantly. He might be changed on an interim foundation by Daybreak Harms, a former Boeing govt who joined Momentus as its chief income officer in November 2019.

The corporate mentioned the management change was meant to handle authorities critiques of the corporate, which is within the technique of merging with Steady Street Acquisition Company, a publicly traded special-purpose acquisition company (SPAC). The businesses introduced the merger in October 2020, turning Momentus right into a publicly traded firm and offering it with $310 million in money.

“We imagine that this management transition will place the corporate for achievement and assist speed up regulatory critiques by the U.S. authorities,” Brian Kabot, chairman and chief govt of Steady Street, mentioned in a press release. “We now have full confidence in Daybreak and the workforce to guide the corporate to achieve each near-term targets and obtain even higher success over the longer-term.”

The assertion famous that the management change was “an effort to expedite the decision of U.S. authorities nationwide safety and international possession issues” however didn’t elaborate. Nevertheless, in filings with the Securities and Alternate Fee, the corporate mentioned that Kokorich’s standing as a Russian citizen posed problems.

One instance of these points is export management rules that prevented Kokorich from reviewing technical details about his personal firm’s tasks. “We at the moment don’t have an export license to switch or make accessible managed know-how to Mr. Kokorich,” Momentus and Steady Street famous in a Dec. 14 SEC submitting. “Because of this, Mr. Kokorich is just not at the moment permitted to entry managed Firm technical info or {hardware}.” It added that it had been in search of an export license for Kokorich since 2018, however “there isn’t a assurance we’ll ever be capable of receive such a license sooner or later.”

The roles performed by Kokorich and one other Russian co-founder, Lev Khasis, in Momentus additionally made Momentus a “international particular person” within the view of the Committee on International Funding in the US (CFIUS), which critiques international investments in American corporations with nationwide safety implications. Khasis is a former director within the firm and deputy chairman of the manager board of Sberbank, a Russian financial institution whose operations in the US are restricted by the Treasury Division, the SEC submitting acknowledged. That might make it tougher for Momentus to amass any American corporations as a result of a CFIUS assessment could be needed.

Whereas Kokorich’s resignation is meant to handle these points, it’s not clear the resignation alone with be enough. Kokorich owns a major stake in Momentus, and neither the announcement nor SEC filings indicated he could be promoting these shares.

The Dec. 14 registration assertion with the SEC that outlined these danger issues about Kokorich additionally said that Momentus was “extremely dependent” on him. “The lack of Mr. Kokorich would adversely have an effect on Momentus’ enterprise as a result of his loss may make it tougher to, amongst different issues, compete with different market individuals and retain present clients or domesticate new ones. Unfavorable public notion of, or unfavourable information associated to, Mr. Kokorich might adversely have an effect on Momentus’ model, relationship with clients or standing within the business.”

Momentus has been engaged on a sequence of switch autos, or area tugs, designed to move satellites launched as rideshare payloads to their desired orbits. The corporate had deliberate to launch the primary such tug, known as Vigoride, on SpaceX’s Transporter-1 devoted smallsat rideshare launch, which came about Jan. 24.

Nevertheless, Momentus introduced Jan. 4 it will not fly Vigoride on that mission as a result of the Federal Aviation Administration wouldn’t full a payload assessment in time. Fred Kennedy, president of Momentus, mentioned on the time the FAA had not recognized any “particular issues” with Vigoride, however wanted further time for an interagency assessment that is part of the payload assessment course of. The corporate rescheduled the flight for a SpaceX rideshare mission later within the yr, pending completion of the payload assessment.

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