A quick reassignment for Sen. Jake Garn (R-Utah), whose scheduled space shuttle flight was canceled last week, may have been received with mixed feelings by at least two other crew members whose assignments were moved or possibly even lost as a result.
The National Aeronautics and Space Administration is not saying what role politics played in winning Garn a new chance to be the first space-flying lawmaker except to say it fit "his busy congressional schedule" as chairman of the Senate Banking Committee and the Appropriations subcommittee that oversees NASA's budget.
"We can't tell you if Garn asked for the reassignment or whether it was offered to him," a NASA spokesman said yesterday. "The only thing we can tell you is that Sen. Garn and NASA Administrator James M. Beggs did discuss the situation in a private conversation after his original Challenger mission was canceled and before his new Discovery flight was announced."
Reassigning Garn to a flight later this month meant postponing the flight of French scientist Patrick Baudry until June, a reassignment Baudry may welcome. Baudry had complained that his medical experiments needed more than the four days he was originally assigned. His June flight gives him seven days.
Payload specialist John Conrad, who works for Hughes Aircraft Corp., apparently won't be so lucky. Conrad had been scheduled for a flight in August. Garn's reassignment means that Hughes payload specialist Gregory Jarvis will be moved from June (now Baudry's) to August, which "bumps" Conrad right off the manifest. Said a Hughes spokesman: "NASA says it will look into the situation."
BAGGAGE FEE . . . NASA will soon announce its new pricing schedule for commercial and foreign customers reserving cargo space on shuttle flights from fiscal years 1989 to 1991. Most customers say they think the price will be between $87 million and $89 million for the entire 65-foot-long bay.
NASA officials say that sounds about right, but the price is still subject to change depending on how stiff the agency thinks the competition will be from Europe's Arianespace and how strong the demand for cargo space will be. NASA's current price, $38 million per launch, will climb to $71 million per launch in fiscal years 1986 through 1989.
The Congressional Budget Office thinks Congress "could consider allowing NASA greater flexibility" with prices, such as giving last-minute discounts if room opens up in a cargo bay and letting customers spread their payments over a longer or shorter time than the 33 months NASA now requires.
DESIGN AWARDS . . . After announcing its pricing schedule, NASA will announce the first winners in the design competition for the $8 billion permanent space station it hopes to put into orbit in 1993 or 1994.
There is stiff competition in four categories, the two big ones being a $24 million contract to design the pressurized "modules" for astronauts to live and work in and a $27 million contract to design a structural framework connecting the modules, a spaceport to be used by the shuttle ferrying people and supplies from Earth, and the ports that astronauts will use when they go spacewalking.
Leaders of the three industry teams competing for the $24 million contract are Boeing, General Dynamics and Martin Marietta. For the $27 million contract, it's Lockheed, McDonnell Douglas and Rockwell. CAPTION: Picture, Robert Marcellini displays Lockheed Corp. model of permanent space station. Six industry teams are vying for contracts to design the $8 billion platform. AP