Space Tourism Company Still On The Ground

Tuesday, September 25th 2007, 5:53 pm
By: News On 6

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) _ Six years ago, a space tourism company announced plans to blast off from a spaceport in western Oklahoma and make spaceflight as common as commercial air travel.

But Rocketplane Global has yet to get its spacecraft off the ground amid mounting financial problems.

The financial pressures have forced staff cutbacks and threatens a commercial agreement between its subsidiary -- Rocketplane Kistler -- and NASA to service the International Space Station.

In spite of financial and technical challenges, company officials say Rocketplane remains committed to flying passengers on suborbital flights from the Oklahoma Spaceport at the former Clinton-Sherman Air Force Base in Burns Flat.

Rocketplane chairman and CEO George French says the company is doing fine and plans to make some significant announcements at a space exploration conference next month in New Mexico.

Based in Oklahoma City, the company was founded in 2001.

The Oklahoma Tax Commission named Rocketplane a qualified space transportation provider in July 2004, qualifying the company for almost $18 million in transferrable state tax credits that were sold to finance development of its suborbital spacecraft.