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NASA wants government plant to build boosters

NASA plans to recommend to Congress that a $1.2 billion, government-owned plant be built to make new booster rockets for the space shuttle, according to a report yesterday. The idea was criticized by a senator from Utah, where the boosters are constructed by Morton Thiokol.

``I suspect that this is one of those crazy ideas that was dreamed up by some empire-building bureaucrat,'' Sen. Jake Garn (R) of Utah was quoted by the Washington Post as saying. ``In this current budgetary climate, we shouldn't even be considering this kind of nonsense.''

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The newspaper cited an unidentified industry source as saying that Senator Garn has been threatening to hold up space station funding if the plan isn't blocked.

The plan, which calls for a contractor to operate the booster-building plant, would end Morton Thiokol's monopoly on the booster manufacturing.

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