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SCIENCE / TECHNOLOGY

Compiled by David Olmos, Times staff writer

McDonnell Douglas Astronautics Co. in Huntington Beach recently completed negotiations with NASA on a 10-year, $2.6-billion contract for work on the U.S. space station.

Last December, a contracting team headed by McDonnell Douglas was selected by NASA to build a major portion of the space station, which is scheduled to begin operation in the mid-1990s. Since the December award, the Astronautics unit has been doing engineering work on the program while NASA ironed out details of space station contracts with the company and three other prime contractors.

Because of uncertainty over federal funding for the nation’s first permanently manned station, officials of the Huntington Beach facility say work has been progressing slower than originally expected.

“There was concern all this year” about space station funding, said Tom Williams, a McDonnell Douglas spokesmen. “That did not allow us to gear up as quickly as we would like.”

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Last year, Congress included only $425 million in NASA’s budget for the space station. Congress more than doubled the station budget to $900 million for the fiscal year that began Oct. 1. President Reagan approved the station budget during the summer.

The $2.6-billion contract will be divided between McDonnell Douglas and its subcontractors, IBM, Lockheed, RCA, Honeywell and Astro Aerospace.

The McDonnell Douglas contracting team is building a major portion of the space station, including the framework, propulsion, navigation, communications and two air locks. About 500 people work on the space station program in Huntington Beach, up from 300 at the beginning of 1988.

Three other prime contracting teams, Boeing Aerospace, General Electric’s Astro-Space division and Rockwell International’s Rocketdyne division, have separate space station contracts totaling $5.1 billion.

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