WASHINGTON — Given a go-ahead from Congress, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration on Friday invited aerospace companies to submit bids by July 21 for the detailed design and construction of the manned space station that the United States is to launch in the mid-1990s.
Space agency officials said the proposals should be evaluated by the space agency in time for the four major contracts for the $10.9-billion orbiting platform to be issued next November.
The long-delayed milestone in the controversial space station project came three weeks after the Reagan Administration, confronted by dramatic escalation in cost estimates, approved a design substantially scaled down from NASA's original concepts.
After the Administration decision to proceed, the formal invitation to contractors was held up until congressional committees responsible for the civilian space budget gave their go-ahead. Concerned that there might not be enough early scientific return from the station, and further worried about the rising cost, Congress last year blocked NASA from issuing its request for proposals until the committees gave their approval.