Despite funding problems and layoffs, Rocketplane Inc. officials continue their reassurance that everything is fine and state officials continue to have confidence in the Oklahoma City-based company.
Rocketplane officials failed to meet a funding deadline mandated by a NASA contract to build a reusable rocket, "K-1," to transport cargo to and from the International Space Station. Rocketplane diverted funds from its suborbital space passenger subsidiary to the reusable orbital subsidiary, according to laid-off Chief Technical Officer David Urie.
Space News magazine recently detailed the company's financial difficulties. During the past few months, Rocketplane laid off about a fifth of its workforce. Almost all of the layoffs came on the space tourism company side, Rocketplane Global. The state of Oklahoma awarded Rocketplane investors an $18 million tax credit to help build the suborbital tourism ship.
Company President Randy Brinkley told Space News only one person has left on the reusable rocket company side, Rocketplane Kistler, but that a total of 17 employees are no longer with Rocketplane due to cutbacks.
Along with Urie, Rocketplane Vice President and Chief of Staff Robert Seto has left. Seto did not comment.
Brinkley reportedly said that when Rocketplane Global can get its finances back on solid ground, the company would rehire some of the laid-off workers.
When Oklahoma Gazette interviewed Urie, he said he was unaware of any situation where he would go back to Rocketplane.
"I left in May and the separation was complete," he said. "Scott Cooper
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