Thursday, October 18, 2007
NASA Pulls COTS Plug on RpK
Rocketplane-Kistler [RpK] failed to meet financial milestones required by the NASA Commercial Orbital Transportation Services (COTS) demonstration program leaving the federal space agency with the decision made today to terminate the Space Act Agreement.
RpK had drawn down $32.1 million in NASA funding under the COTS Space Act Agreement. The commercial space launch firm will not be required to make a refund but will loose the option to draw a $175-million account balance.
The $175-million contract balance will now go into a prompt competition among other commercial space launch providers. The NASA decision opens the door for for other private firms to advance forward. The space firms may include PlanetSpace and t/Space as well as Constellation Services International, SpaceDev and Spacehab. The new award is expected to be made in the spring of 2008.
SpaceX, the second firm awarded a COTS Space Act Agreement, is thus far making its milestones. RpK is permitted to compete again for the new solicitation along with SpaceX, according to NASA.
NASA is seeking private commercialization of space launch resupply to the international space station post-2010 when the space shuttle fleet is to be retired from flight. The United States has contracted with the Russian Federal Space Agency for resupply of the space station until other commercial options become available.