Rocketplane Limited, Inc. is not the same company as Pioneer Rocketplane. Pioneer still exists on paper, but is no longer operating. Rocketplane Limited owns the intellectual property of Pioneer, but none of the principals of Pioneer, including its founder, work for Rocketplane Limited at this time.
George French, CEO of Rocketplane, announced on 27 February 2006 that he was purchasing Kistler Aerospace for an undisclosed sum, and renaming it Rocketplane Kistler. Kistler Aerospace had designed and begun construction of the K-1 launch vehicle, a fully reusable two-stage to orbit launcher, but filed for bankruptcy before the vehicle could be completed. French used the K-1 to bid for commercial crew and cargo resupply contracts to the International Space Station under the NASA COTS (Commercial Orbital Transportation Services) program. This contract was awarded jointly to SpaceX and Rocketplane Kistler on 18 August 2006.
The Oklahoma Gazette has written several stories on Rocketplane including a June 13, 2007 front page featured cover story entitled "PIE in the SKY" and lead with "It's been eight years since Rocketplane wooed the state with creating space tourism. Oklahoma taxpayers gave the company $18 million. So where is the ship?" The Oklahoma Gazette has also reported diverted funds and the layoff of the Oklahoma work force.
Space News reported in a June 25, 2007 story, "...if RpK [Rocketplane Kistler] misses the new deadline, it would be the fourth time the company has gone back to NASA and requested an extension."
The Chicago Tribune reported on September 11 2007 that Abercrombie and Kent, a luxury travel company, was suing Rocketplane for $3.4 million in liquidated damages from Rocketplane having stopped work on the XP vehicle. Abercrombie and Kent was also asking for $3.425 million in costs from Rocketplane failing to show up for an arbitration session.
On October 18 2007, NASA discontinued its agreement with Rocketplane Kistler, and announced that the remaining $175 million commitment to the project would be made available to other companies. On October 19, the company appealed the decision, and asked NASA to reconsider the termination or, alternatively, pay $10 million in costs incurred to date.