McDonnell Douglas Astronautics Co. in Huntington Beach has delivered the first test hardware units for the proposed U.S. space station, the company said Tuesday.
The company said it sent mock-ups of the space station air locks--the part of the spacecraft that allows crew members to pass from the pressurized station into the vacuum of space--to the Johnson Space Center in Houston for testing.
Last December, a team of contractors led by McDonnell Douglas won a $1.9-billion contract to build a major portion of the proposed space station. The station's future remains uncertain, however, because of proposed cuts in NASA's budget for the program.
McDonnell Douglas said employment for the program has increased to 437 people, up from 286 last March.
The company does not plan significant increases in hiring until the federal funding situation becomes clearer.
"I think we're holding steady until we get more funding," said Sheila Carter, a company spokeswoman.