Space industry likely to lose 4,000 jobs


WASHINGTON -- The National Aeronautics and Space Administration and its contractors are expected to eliminate more than 4,000 jobs by the end of the year because of the White House decision to scale back the space station, according to NASA and industry sources.

The cutbacks from a work force of 11,000 will hit several areas hard. McDonnell Douglas Aerospace plans to lay off about 1,000 workers in Huntington Beach, Calif., Houston and St. Louis, a company official confirmed yesterday.

McDonnell Douglas expects its subcontractors to let go another 1,000 workers, while cuts at Grumman Corp., Boeing Co. and other aerospace firms are likely to push the private-sector job toll even higher, officials said.

In addition, about 1,300 government engineers and managers will be cut from the space station payroll by early next year, according to NASA officials. Some of those civil service employees will be reassigned to other jobs, while others may choose to participate in a recently announced buyout program.

The reductions, which would eliminate more than a third of the government and industry jobs now devoted to the space station, are largely the result of President Clinton's decision earlier this year to order NASA to redesign and reduce the cost of the orbiting space laboratory. The space station is intended to serve as a permanent platform for biological and industrial materials research.

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