NASA Delays Space Station Contract Awards
CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. (AP) _ Aerospace firms, which had expected to learn this week the winners of NASA’s lucrative space station contracts, will have to wait several more weeks for the decision.
The space agency announced Monday it was delaying the announcement on the contracts, worth billions of dollars, because NASA administrator James C. Fletcher needs more information before deciding.
Industry sources who spoke on condition of anonymity said they believe the delay is related to the effort by the Reagan administration and Congress to find at least $23 billion in budget cuts for this fiscal year. The effort could lead to a reduction in station funding and stretch out the project.
Contract evaluation boards completed briefing Fletcher on Friday on the four contracts to be awarded, and it was widely expected he would announce his decision this week.
The National Aeronautics and Space Administration divided development of the space station, scheduled for orbital assembly in the mid-1990s, into four work packages worth $9.2 billion. Estimates for total deployment of the laboratory range up to $32 billion.
Competing for the largest package, the $4.2 billion structure and assembly, are McDonnell Douglas Corp. of St. Louis and Rockwell International of Pittsburgh. Vying for the second largest, the $3 billion laboratory and living modules, are the Boeing Co. of Seattle and Martin Marietta Corp. of Bethesda, Md.
Two of the work packages may have default winners because there is only one bidder in each case: Rockwell’s Rocketdyne Division of Canoga Park, Calif., for the $1.2 billion electrical power system, and General Electric’s Astro- Space Division of Princeton, N.J., for platforms to orbit near the station.
Each work package has several subcontractors, and the companies have poured millions of dollars into efforts to win the awards. Some of that money has gone to national advertising campaigns, casting the station as necessary to the nation’s future in space, in order to gather public and congressional support.
The station, whose components will be carried into orbit by a series of space shuttle flights starting about 1994, will accommodate eight astronauts and researchers and will have an expected 30-year lifetime.