Limited Inc

Rocketplane Limited, Inc.

Rocketplane Limited, Inc. is an aerospace design and development company headquartered in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, with facilities in Guthrie, Oklahoma and Burns Flat, Oklahoma.


Rocketplane Limited, Inc. was incorporated under the laws of the state of Oklahoma on 16 July 2001. The corporation’s founders envisioned building a rocketplane that would send passengers more than 330,000 feet (100 km) above the Earth. In 2004, Rocketplane was designated a Qualified Space Transportation Provider by the State of Oklahoma under the guidelines specified in SB 817. With this designation, the State of Oklahoma awarded to Rocketplane re-sellable tax credits which were used to initiate operations, develop facilities, and recruit the required engineering staff.

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.

Space Tourism

Rocketplane Limited intends to fly space tourism flights using the Rocketplane XP spaceplane it is building. It had announced plans to fly the XP in 2007, but on August 31, 2007 its chief executive officer said test flights will begin in 2009 and commercial flights will begin in 2010. For a price of about US$200,000, passengers will be able to purchase one ticket for a seat on a suborbital flight, including 4 minutes of weightlessness, with an apogee of over 100 kilometers altitude.


Space News, Aviation Week and the Oklahoma Gazette have reported layoffs and funding problems. Theses publications report, "Rocketplane officials failed to meet a funding deadline mandated by a NASA contract to build a reusable rocket...."

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.

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