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Orbital To Pull Out of Rocketplane Kistler’s COTS Team

WASHINGTON --- RocketplaneKistler's effort to restart development of the K-1 reusable rocket and conductfor NASA a series of International Space Station re-supply demonstrationflights has been dealt a setback with the loss of strategic partner OrbitalSciences Corp. and the approximately $10 million the Dulles, Va.-based companyhad pledged to bring to the table.

NASA picked OklahomaCity-based Rocketplane Kistler and El Segundo, Calif.-based Space ExplorationTechnologies (SpaceX) in mid-August from a field of six finalists to share $500million in funding the space agency plans to spend on the Commercial OrbitalTransportation Services (COTS) demonstration program through 2011.

Rocketplane Kistler haspledged to match NASA's $207 million investment in the K-1 roughly two-for-onewith outside capital. Upon winning the COTS contract, Rocketplane Kistlerannounced that Orbital Sciences Corp. was signing on as a strategic partner tomanage the K-1 development and contribute to Kistler's financing efforts with a$10 million investment.

But that plan has fallenthrough, according to Orbital Sciences.

"We haven't been able toagree on all the elements of the business plan so we will not be part of theprogram going forward," Orbital Sciences spokesman Barron Beneski said Sept.25. "And of course as a result we will not be investing the $10 million."

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