SHUTTLE JOBS MAY FLY AWAY NASA: COST IS LESS IN FLORIDA.Byline: Jim Skeen Staff Writer
PALMDALE - Saying it would cost $20 million to $30 million more per shuttle to do the work in Palmdale, National Aeronautics and Space Administration National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), civilian agency of the U.S. federal government with the mission of conducting research and developing operational programs in the areas of space exploration, artificial satellites (see satellite, artificial), officials are leaning toward having shuttle-modification work done in Florida.
U.S. Rep. Howard P. ``Buck'' McKeon, R-Santa Clarita, said he got that message after meeting Monday with the shuttle program manager, Ron Dittmore, and other NASA NASA: see National Aeronautics and Space Administration.
in full National Aeronautics and Space Administration
Independent U.S. officials who toured Boeing's shuttle facility at U.S. Air Force Plant 42.
``I can't say I'm real optimistic op·ti·mist
1. One who usually expects a favorable outcome.
2. A believer in philosophical optimism.
op after the meeting,'' McKeon told reporters. ``My interpretation of what he (Dittmore) was saying was there's no money in the budget to do it here.''
NASA officials did not speak to reporters.
McKeon said he has not given up hope on keeping the work in Palmdale, where it employs about 300 people.
McKeon said will talk with California's other congressional representatives to try to round up support, and he will fly back to Washington to talk to outgoing NASA Administrator Dan Goldin.
Asked what a decision for the work to be done in Florida would mean for Boeing's presence in the Antelope Valley This article is about the Los Angeles County region. For the census-designated place in Wyoming, see Antelope Valley-Crestview, Wyoming.
The Antelope Valley , McKeon said he was told at a meeting with Boeing officials: ``It could get nasty here with Boeing.''
A Boeing spokeswoman said company officials will have no comment until NASA makes its decision.
The final decision will be made by top officials at NASA headquarters, but there has been no word when it might come.
McKeon said he acknowledged that it costs more to modify the shuttles in Palmdale than at the Kennedy Space Center Kennedy Space Center (Cape Canaveral) U.S.
launch site for manned space missions. [U.S. Hist.: WB, So:562]
See : Astronautics .
But he said there are intangibles in Palmdale's favor - namely the experience of the Boeing workers.
The idea of inspecting, overhauling and modifying shuttles in Florida has been raised several times in recent years, but only one shuttle-modification project has been performed in Florida.
The one exception was in 1992 when NASA officials decided it would be cheaper to do the work on Discovery in Florida. The rest of the projects have been done at U.S. Air Force Plant 42, where the shuttles were assembled.
Facing a $4.7 billion overrun 1. overrun - A frequent consequence of data arriving faster than it can be consumed, especially in serial line communications. For example, at 9600 baud there is almost exactly one character per millisecond, so if a silo can hold only two characters and the machine takes on the development of the International Space Station, NASA officials are reviewing the idea of performing inspections and modifications on the orbiter Discovery at Florida's Kennedy Space Center to save money.
NASA has authorized its prime shuttle contractor, United Space Alliance, to begin hiring workers in Florida in the event the space agency opts for Florida.
The tour Monday was the result of a meeting earlier this month between McKeon and Goldin. At that meeting, Goldin agreed to provide a letter specifying how the agency will choose between Florida and Palmdale as the shuttle-modification site and to arrange for shuttle administrators to visit Palmdale.
Goldin indicated the ability to safely meet the shuttle fleet's flight schedule and the ability to show real cost savings will be top criteria, McKeon said.
In the past, McKeon said, he thought the debates were political, with Florida leaders trying to get more jobs. This time, McKeon said he is convinced that the shuttle program is facing a real budget crunch.
Typically, United Space Alliance's subcontractor One who takes a portion of a contract from the principal contractor or from another subcontractor.
When an individual or a company is involved in a large-scale project, a contractor is often hired to see that the work is done. , Boeing Space Systems Division, uses about 300 workers in Palmdale to conduct the modifications and inspections on orbiters. The work lasts nine to 10 months and can cost upward of more than; above.
See also: Upward $75 million.
A 1998 study by United Space Alliance determined that modifying a shuttle in Palmdale costs $5.3 million more than it would in Florida.
However, according to according to
1. As stated or indicated by; on the authority of: according to historians.
2. In keeping with: according to instructions.
3. the study, Kennedy would need $48.8 million more in facilities to perform shuttle modifications in addition to launching nine to 12 shuttle flights a year.
Monday's meeting with NASA officials was also attended by state Sen. W.J. ``Pete'' Knight, R-Palmdale, and Assemblyman as·sem·bly·man
A man who is a member of a legislative assembly.
pl -men a member of a legislative assembly
Noun 1. George Runner George C. Runner, Jr. (born March 25 1952 in Scotia, New York) is a Republican California State Senator, who represents the 17th Senate District, which includes portions of Los Angeles County, San Bernardino County and Ventura County. , R-Lancaster, who have both been strong supporters of keeping the shuttle work in the Antelope Valley.