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MCKEON PRESSES FOR LAUNCH SITE; CONGRESSMAN URGES CALIFORNIA OFFICIALS PULL TOGETHER FOR BID.

Byline: Jim Skeen Daily News Staff Writer

Rep. Howard ``Buck'' McKeon, R-Santa Clarita, urged California officials to ``pull together'' in its bid to attract a launch site for a spaceship being developed by Lockheed Martin.

McKeon made the comments during a visit to the Lockheed Martin Skunk Works. During the visit, McKeon got an update on the construction of the X-33, an aircraft that will test technologies Skunk Works plans to use for a spaceship called VentureStar.

The Antelope Valley is among the regions in 18 states vying to be designated as a launch site for VentureStar. Construction, launch operations and spacecraft maintenance work could employ 2,300 people for a VentureStar spaceport.

``We want to make sure we put our best foot forward,'' McKeon said. ``We must pull together because it is best for our country. My personal feeling is we (the Antelope Valley) look good in that competition.''

Lockheed Martin officials said in January that they intended to build the $4.5 billion VentureStar in Palmdale, where 700 workers already are at work on the X-33, a similar but smaller craft that will not go into orbit.

The X-33 is expected to be flight-tested in 1999, blasting off from a launch site under construction at Edwards Air Force Base and landing like an airplane as far away as Montana.

Lockheed Martin wants to begin routine flights of VentureStar in 2004.

Lockheed Martin officials said that more than one spaceport probably will be needed to meet the requirements of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration, satellite companies and others willing to pay for space flights.

McKeon's visit also included a stop at the site where the Skunk Works unit is building two prototypes of the Joint Strike Fighter. Lockheed Martin is competing with Boeing for the right to produce the jet.

If Lockheed Martin wins the production contract, the company would assemble the jets in Ft. Worth, Texas, but plans to build several parts at Palmdale. Those parts would include the aircraft's rudders and leading edges of the wings.

It is anticipated that more than 3,000 JSF aircraft would be produced. The aircraft would be used by the Air Force, Navy and Marines and also by the British Navy.

CAPTION(S):

Photo

PHOTO (Color in AV Edition only) Rep. Howard ``Buck'' McKeon, center, is shown parts for the X-33 on Monday by X-33 managers Cleon Lacefield, left, and Robert Raffaele.

Gene Blevins/Special to the Daily News
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No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 1998, Gale Group. All rights reserved. Gale Group is a Thomson Corporation Company.

 
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Publication:Daily News (Los Angeles, CA)
Date:Aug 11, 1998
Words:409
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