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Report recommends shuttle privatization
Posted: Mon, Oct 21, 2002, 8:00 AM ET (1200 GMT)
STS-112 rollout (NASA/KSC) A report commissioned by NASA suggests that the agency further privatize shuttle operations, including possibly transferring ownership of the orbiters to a private corporation or semi-public authority. The Rand Corporation report, delivered to NASA last month but not released to the public until last week, provided several options to further privatize shuttle operations. The report called the current situation, where shuttle operations are handed by United Space Alliance, a Boeing-Lockheed Martin joint venture, as "profoundly noncompetitive" and suggested that the current contract be broken up into smaller pieces to open it for more competition. Among the other options is the creation of a space authority composed of a mix of government and private personnel that would operate the shuttle for NASA. A complicating factor for any privatization scheme, the report warned, is the age of the orbiters and the need to spending increasing amounts of money to maintain and upgrade the vehicles: up to $300 million a year by the end of this decade. NASA said it was reviewing the report but had yet to decide on a course of action.
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