Rocketplane launches appeal
As Brian Berger reports in Space News today, in response to NASA's announcement Oct. 18, the terminated COTS winner sent a letter on Oct. 19 calling the space agency's decision "arbitrary, capricious, and an abuse of discretion that will not withstand judicial scrutiny should this matter remain unresolved after the three NASA levels of review" and asked NASA to "either reconsider the termination or give the company $10 million for progress it made toward its unmet milestones."
I have not seen the Space Act Agreement, but Space News reports under its terms RpK can sue NASA in federal court after exhausting "a three-step appeals process that begins with NASA's COTS contracting officer and ends with the agency's associate administrator for exploration systems, Rich Gilbrech, who signed off on RpK's termination."
For its part, Alan Lindenmoyer, NASA's COTS program chief is quoted by Space News saying, "We spent the last year trying to work with RpK to give them every opportunity to succeed. Based on its failure to meet its performance milestones, we've come to the conclusion that it is in NASA's best interest to discontinue our funded Space Act Agreement and reopen the competition."
And NASA spokesperson Melissa Mathews confirmed, "The Oct. 18 termination letter is a final agency decision," and the company's appeal would not delay NASA's new COTS solicitation, under which RpK may submit a new proposal.
Alas. It seems like yesterday (well, August 2006) that RpK, along with SpaceX celebrated winning the COTS competition. (SpaceX, which won the larger of the two awards, shared not RpK's difficulties meeting milestones.)
Meanwhile, it's back to square one as NASA solicits new proposals. Clark Lindsey comments here. And never mind the K-1 orbital vehicle, there's still space tourism and the XP spacecraft for Rocketplane. (Via HobbySpace)