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FAA Denies Momentus Payload Review Over National Security Concerns 

By Rachel Jewett | May 12, 2021

A rendering of Momentus’ Vigoride in-space shuttle. Photo: Momentus

The U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has denied Momentus’ request to approve its Vigoride orbital transfer vehicle for upcoming launch due to national security concerns. 

Momentus is in the midst of a special purpose acquisition company (SPAC) merger with Stable Road Acquisition in order to go public. The FAA denial was revealed in a Stable Road Acquisition 8-K filing to the Securities and Exchange Commission, and first reported on by Space News

“During an interagency consultation, the FAA was informed that the launch of Momentus’ payload poses national security concerns associated with Momentus’ current corporate structure,” the filing reads. “The FAA understands that Momentus is undergoing a process that may resolve the national security concerns, and that the FAA can reconsider a payload application when that process has been completed.”

Momentus wanted to fly its Vigoride vehicle on the June 2021 SpaceX rideshare mission. Now, Stable Road Acquisition said the Vigoride 1 and 2 will need to be pushed to a later launch. This demonstration was originally set for the Transporter 1 SpaceX mission in January, but Momentus had to pull out of the mission because it did not have FAA approval. 

The startup has had issues with its SPAC plans because founding CEO Mikhail Kokorich is a Russian citizen. Kokorich stepped down in January in order to expedite the resolution of national security and foreign ownership concerns, the company said. Momentus is also under review by the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States (CFIUS). 

The Stable Road SPAC is also currently voting on whether or not to extend the deadline to consummate the merger. Voting cuts off at midnight on May 12, and stockholders will hold a special meeting on Thursday. If the shareholders do not agree to extend the merger deadline until August 13, then the merger will not go through.