August 15, 2008 / 8:06 PM / in 11 years

NASA to re-open bidding for space suits -letter

BOSTON, Aug 15 (Reuters) - NASA plans to terminate its contract for oilfield services company Oceaneering International Inc (OII.N) to produce a new space suit as it seeks more information on costs, according to a document obtained by Reuters on Friday.

The move by the National Aeronautics and Space Administration gives diversified U.S. manufacturer United Technologies Corp’s (UTX.N) Hamilton Sundstrand unit a chance to win back the contract. Hamilton has been the prime contractor on the space suit program since 1981.

A NASA official told Washington auditors in a letter dated Thursday that the U.S. space agency found it had not asked Oceaneering for a required “cost accounting standards disclosure statement,” and it would hold “limited discussions” with Oceaneering and United Tech about new proposals.

NASA will terminate its current contract for Houston-based Oceaneering to produce the space suits, senior attorney Alexander Bakos wrote in the letter obtained by Reuters.

NASA spokesman Grey Hautaluoma confirmed the validity of the letter.

Hamilton Sundstrand spokesman Daniel Coulom said the company would pursue the contract but expressed concerns over the “limited” nature of the discussions.

Officials at Oceaneering were not immediately available for comment.

When Oceaneering in June said it received NASA’s contract for the next-generation space suit, it said it expected the program to generate $180 million in revenue over six years. (Reporting by Scott Malone; Editing by Braden Reddall)

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