LOCKHEED MISSILES BIDS ON SPACE OBSERVATORY

LOCKHEED MISSILES BIDS ON SPACE OBSERVATORY

Lockheed Missiles and Space Co. has submitted a proposal to build a space- based observatory that would answer questions about quasars, neutron stars, black holes and other mysteries of the universe, a spokeswoman at the Sunnyvale-based company said.

NASA will review the proposal along with one from TRW Inc. of Cleveland, Ohio, to determine who will build the observatory, said Jan Wrather, a Lockheed spokeswoman. The National Aeronautics and Space Administration estimates that the project will cost about $1 billion, although the companies bidding for it declined to reveal their cost estimates.The proposed observatory is called AXAF, or Advanced X-ray Astrophysics Facility. It is part of NASA's Great Observatory Program. It would include scientific instruments to measure the X-ray spectrum of objects in space, and record temperatures, densities and ages of celestial bodies.

Lockheed built the program's first space-based telescope, the Hubble telescope, which is scheduled to be launched into space aboard a shuttle in mid-1989. AXAF would be launched in the mid-1990s.