Potential lawsuit gives Rocketplane another headache

Rocketplane, the aerospace company that claimed it would bring jobs and millions of dollars to Oklahoma, is facing more challenges.

The past few weeks have brought a string of bad news for Rocketplane, beginning with Rocketplane Kistler, an orbital subsidiary of the Oklahoma City-based company, was informed its multimillion-dollar contract with NASA is in jeopardy of being terminated.

Rocketplane also is facing a lawsuit filed by an Illinois marketing company claiming Rocketplane is in breach of contract. The lawsuit alleges Rocketplane ceased work on its suborbital passenger operation, the "XP," a claim that contradicts public statements company officials have made.

The state of Oklahoma awarded Rocketplane investors an $18 million tax credit to help build the suborbital plane in 2003.

NASA spokeswoman Melissa Mathews told Oklahoma Gazette the notice is the first step toward potentially terminating the contract in 30 days, but that the letter is not a commitment to termination. A final decision had not been made, she said.

Regarding the lawsuit, allegations made in the court brief include:
" the company ceased operations on the space passenger vehicle;
" fund-raising efforts for the project were halted; and
" several employees were let go, including key XP administrators.

The lawsuit was filed by Abercrombie & Kent Space LLC, an advertising and promotions company for space tourism located in Oak Brook, Ill. Neither Abercrombie & Kent nor Rocketplane officials would comment on the lawsuit. "Scott Cooper

More Rocketplane coverage:

Ex-Rocketplane chief engineer says funding diverted from tourism vehicle
Rocketplane lays off manager, seeks $500 million
Rocketplane responds
Texas rocket leaves Oklahoma soil, returns 
Rocketplane beat to launch by Texas company 
Another rocket company ready to do business with state
Rocketplane begins staff layoffs

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