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NORTHROP/BOEING LOSES ORION PACT.

Byline: JIM SKEEN Staff Writer

PALMDALE -- The Northrop Grumman/Boeing team -- and Southern California -- lost out on designing and building the nation's next manned spacecraft, but there are other space exploration opportunities out there.

Northrop Grumman/Boeing team officials revealed that if they had won the contract to build Orion, they planned to conduct work in El Segundo, Redondo Beach and San Bernardino. Nothing was planned for Palmdale, where both companies operate work sites at Air Force Plant 42.

While very disappointed with NASA's selection of Lockheed Martin to take on the Orion project, officials said other space exploration opportunities are available. Those include designing and building the space booster rockets to propel cargo and crew into space, a propulsion segment to take astronauts out of Earth's orbit and onward to the moon, and the vehicle that will land on the moon.

``We will be competing on those,'' said Northrop Grumman spokesman Jim Hart. ``We've been working with NASA and DoD (the federal Department of Defense) for 40 years on space systems. We are well-positioned to use that expertise on the next elements.''

Hart said Northrop Grumman and Boeing will remain partnered as they work on other segments of NASA's plans for returning astronauts to the moon and on future trips to Mars.

The team is already working with NASA, developing requirements for space boosters and on the lunar-lander segments of the effort, Hart said.

Hart noted that what was then Grumman Aircraft built the original lunar lander for the Apollo program. Grumman merged with Northrop in the 1990s.

Northrop's partner, Boeing, acquired Rockwell, the company that served as the prime contractor on both Apollo and the space shuttle.

Efforts to attract NASA work on Orion to California were also dealt a blow this week as a proposed tax credit for the project failed to gain a foothold in the state Legislature. The tax credit, proposed by Assemblywoman Sharon Runner, R-Lancaster, would have provided a 10 percent tax credit on wages paid and equipment purchased for the program.

Runner had hoped the tax credit could have been used to attract work for subcontractors on the project.

james.skeen(at)dailynews

(661) 267-5743
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Publication:Daily News (Los Angeles, CA)
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Sep 1, 2006
Words:362
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