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Sunday, Apr 14, 2024

Space

Space/21″/mike1st/mark2nd By DANIEL TAUB Staff Reporter While L.A.’s aerospace industry is a mere shadow of its Cold War size, it is being significantly bolstered by the International Space Station bringing hundreds of millions of dollars in contracts and thousands of high-wage jobs to Canoga Park, Torrance, Downey and other parts of L.A. County. The largest portion of local work is being done at the Canoga Park Rocketdyne facilities of Boeing Co., the primary contractor for NASA’s portion of the space station. Boeing’s original contract with NASA was valued at $6 billion, but it has since grown to $7.4 billion. At the Rocketdyne facilities, about 500 engineers, technicians and other workers are testing the electrical power system for the space station a system they also designed. That work will continue until the final pieces are launched, likely in 2004. The system Rocketdyne designed and is testing will provide electrical power to all parts of the space station, from lighting for the living quarters to heating elements for experiments. The power itself will come from solar panels being built by Lockheed Martin Corp. in Sunnyvale, Calif., but Rocketdyne is integrating the panels with the electrical system, as well as testing the entire system using NASA-provided equipment that simulates solar rays. “Basically, what the electric power system has to do is collect the power from the sun, and it has to power all the experiments, all the life-support systems on the station,” said Rocketdyne spokesman Dan Beck. Beck added that the electrical system has to collect and store power in its batteries for the 30 minutes or so that the station will be in the earth’s shadow during each 90-minute orbit, during which time it will be prevented from collecting solar rays. “So it’s a pretty tricky technological problem because you have to make sure you maintain the power for the life support as well as any ongoing experiments,” he said. The first part of Rocketydyne’s electrical system is aboard Unity, a node that was scheduled to go up late last week and which will connect other components of the station, including the U.S. laboratory and habitation module. Boeing, at its plant in Palmdale, has also undertaken modifications to the three space shuttles to make them capable of connecting with the space station. With those changes, astronauts will be able to move between the shuttle and station, said Alan Buis, spokesman for Boeing’s reusable space systems unit. Boeing’s largest local subcontractor for the project, AlliedSignal Inc.’s aerospace division in Torrance, has about 200 workers building 100 different components for the space station’s life-support system the system that provides oxygen and temperature control for the astronauts living on the station. The first piece of that system is included on the Unity node, and pieces of it will continue to be put into the space station through a dozen more shuttle launches, said Joy Sabol, spokeswoman for AlliedSignal’s aerospace equipment systems unit. Aside from AlliedSignal, more than 40 smaller companies in L.A. are doing work on the station, including Orbital Sciences Corp.’s Pomona division and a Kinko’s Copies location in Woodland Hills, which is reproducing documents used for assembly. At B & B; Precision Inc., a Paramount-based metal parts maker, about 70 percent of company revenues over the last three years have been space station-related. The 40-employee company is making about 300 different parts, including cable and equipment-support brackets. Unlike Boeing and other companies that will continue to work for the next several years, B & B;’s work is almost complete though the company is expecting to replace that work with other Boeing contracts. “We anticipate probably another year’s worth of fairly consistent work,” said Dan Flick, who is in charge of space station sales for B & B.;

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