CONGRESS TURNS DOWN PLAN TO LEASE SPACE FACTORY

CONGRESS TURNS DOWN PLAN TO LEASE SPACE FACTORY

Congress has turned its back on a Reagan administration plan to sign a contract this year to lease a robot space factory from a private company.

The probabilities are that there is going to be only one lousy bidder on it and that's a group of guys who couldn't sell to the private market, said Rep. David Nagle, D-Iowa.That fear prompted the House Space Science Subcommittee to vote Wednesday to prohibit the National Aeronautics and Space Administration from awarding contracts for the space factory, the so-called Commercially Developed Space Facility, without the express permission of Congress.

Rep. Nagle said the proposed lease was a project to benefit a group of people in Houston.

Space Industries Inc. of Houston has proposed leasing 70 percent of a robot space factory to the government for five years at $140 million a year and leasing the rest to private industry. The facility would be carried into orbit aboard the space shuttle and be serviced periodically by astronauts.

A vote for this is to reward an incompetent presentation by the space agency that this committee should not tolerate, Rep. Nagle said.