Company to Serve as Primary Industrial Partner to Rocketplane Kistler, Which Has Been Selected by NASA for the Commercial Orbital Transportation System Program

Orbital Sciences Corporation will oversee the final development, production and launch operations activities of Rocketplane Kistler’s (RpK) K-1 reusable launch vehicle system, the company announced today. RpK’s K-1 vehicle was selected last Friday by the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) for the space agency’s Commercial Orbital Transportation System (COTS) program to provide unmanned cargo transportation services to and from the International Space Station (ISS). Earlier this summer, Orbital and RpK entered into a strategic relationship that established Orbital as RpK’s primary industrial partner in the event the K-1 program was selected by NASA for a COTS award from a field of six contending companies.

In implementing the COTS program, RpK will contract with Orbital for the final development, integration, testing and first launches of the K-1 rocket to the ISS in 2008 and 2009. The company will build on the substantial development work already accomplished by the RpK team over the past decade. Orbital’s role in the program encompasses program management support to RpK and lead responsibility for systems engineering and vehicle integration, launch operations, and safety and mission assurance.

Orbital has begun to assemble its program management and engineering team under the direction of Mr. G. David Low, an Orbital Vice President and a former NASA astronaut and veteran of three Space Shuttle missions. The overall K-1 program will be managed by RpK in Houston, TX, supported by Orbital’s oversight and development activities that will be centered at the company’s Dulles, VA campus. Later, Orbital will manage the production, integration and testing process at NASA facilities in Michoud, LA. Orbital expects to staff the K-1 program with experienced engineers and other specialists at its Dulles facilities with support from company staff at other locations as well.

“We would like to congratulate Rocketplane Kistler on its selection by NASA for the COTS program,” said Mr. Low. “Since the beginning of our discussions with RpK, we have been impressed not only by their K-1 system technology, but by the spirit and energy of their team. In all regards, we believe that the combination of our two companies will deliver a reliable and cost-effective solution for NASA’s transportation requirements to and from the International Space Station,” he added.

Orbital is one of the world’s most experienced and successful developers of new space and suborbital launch vehicles. Orbital’s signature space launch vehicle is the innovative air-launched Pegasus, which the company conceived, developed, manufactured and first launched in 1990 and has since used to deliver over 75 satellites into orbit during the last 15 years. In addition, the company has also designed and built derivative rockets, such as the Taurus and Minotaur space launch vehicles and the OBV missile defense interceptor booster, which were spawned from the core Pegasus technology. Supplementing its space launch and interceptor vehicle experience, Orbital has created and delivered numerous new suborbital launch vehicle and supersonic missile configurations, totaling over 400 rockets provided to civil government, military and commercial customers during the last 25 years.

About Orbital

Orbital develops and manufactures small rockets and space systems for commercial, military and civil government customers. The company’s primary products are satellites and launch vehicles, including low-orbit, geosynchronous-orbit and planetary spacecraft for communications, remote sensing, scientific and defense missions; ground- and air-launched rockets that deliver satellites into orbit; and missile defense systems that are used as interceptor and target vehicles. Orbital also offers space-related technical services to government agencies and develops and builds satellite-based transportation management systems for public transit agencies and private vehicle fleet operators.

Note to editors: High-resolution artist renderings of the K-1 vehicle can be found on Orbital’s web site at:


Orbital Sciences Corporation

Barron Beneski, 703-406-5528