Rocketplane emerges from bankruptcy, keeps reaching for the sky
BY JENNIFER PALMER NewsOK.com
Wednesday, January 16, 2013
1/16/13 at 3:23 AM
OKLAHOMA CITY - Rocketplane CEO George French hasn't stopped reaching for the moon.
His space companies, and French personally, have been through bankruptcy. The remnants of Rocketplane Kistler, which claimed an $18 million tax credit while based in Oklahoma City, sold at auction for $25,000.
The buyer, Craig Dickman, founder and CEO of Breakthrough Fuel in Green Bay, Wis., and a longtime friend of French's, said he attended the auction in December 2011 with no intention to buy. But when no one else bid on the company, he made an offer that was part pity and part investment opportunity.
"I was shocked there were no other buyers," Dickman said. "Knowing there was something there, I didn't want to see it completely die. I still think there's value there."
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2001: California-based Rocketplane is one of seven companies nationwide that signs a "gentleman's agreement" to come to the Oklahoma Spaceport under a new law allowing tax credits for companies investing in Oklahoma's space industry.
2003: Rocketplane qualifies for an $18 million tax credit in Oklahoma.
2004: Rocketplane sells the tax credit and uses the proceeds to set up shop and hire employees. It also releases specifications of its XP spacecraft and says it can take tourists into space by 2006 for just under $100,000 each.
2005: Rocketplane pushes launch date to 2007 and raises the ticket price to $200,000. Former NASA astronaut John Herrington joins the staff.
2006: Rocketplane merges with Kistler Aerospace Corp. and receives a $207 million NASA contract to develop a rocket-powered vehicle to reach orbital space. The Oklahoma Spaceport receives approval from the Federal Aviation Administration.
2007: NASA drops its deal with Rocketplane after the company fails to raise enough private funding.
2008: Herrington resigns as Rocketplane pilot.
2009: Rocketplane abandons its office at Will Rogers World Airport and relocates to Wisconsin.
2010: Rocketplane files for Chapter 7 bankruptcy in Wisconsin, as does CEO George French.
2011: The remnants of Rocketplane Kistler sell for $25,000 at an auction in Green Bay, Wis.
Original Print Headline: Rocketplane emerges from bankruptcy