Rocketplane -- money gone, laying off, and where did it go?
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Are you worried about Rocketplane?
Oklahoma Gazette, July 11, 2007
Scott Cooper

Officials with the state agency regulating Oklahomas space industry say they are not concerned about Rocketplanes funding woes and are hopeful things will work out.

Ken McGill, a member of the Oklahoma Space Industry Development Authority, told Oklahoma Gazette he has no worries about Rocketplane.

I am fully aware of the situation and way things are going," he said.

In recent months, reports in the Gazette and other aerospace publications indicate the company, whose investors received an $18 million tax credit from the state, experienced setbacks. Among the issues:

* layoffs of employees including Chief Technical Officer David Urie.
* failing to meet a funding deadline as part of the orbital subsidiarys $207 million NASA contract.
* diverting funds from Rocketplanes suborbital subsidiary to its orbital subsidiary.

Questions arose about the diverted funds since the company received $18 million in state taxpayer money to help build a suborbital tourism ship.

George French told me it was his personal money that was diverted," McGill said of Rocketplane Chairman George French.

OSIDA Executive Director Bill Khourie said he is hopeful Rocketplane will speed up its operation.

Were excited and want everyone to be successful," he said. But as for scheduling, time lines will change. You have to be realistic, but were optimistic."

However, McGill said he would be concerned if Rocketplane showed no signs of progress by the end of the year.

Should the state be concerned about its $18 million tax-credit investment?

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