WINONA (AP) -- Officials at Cytec Engineered Materials were still waiting Monday to learn whether the Columbia tragedy would affect jobs or operations at the company's plant here.
The plant makes carbon fabric and phenolic resin that are the raw materials for the composite nozzles on the space shuttle's solid rocket boosters and nozzles on other solid-fuel rockets. Cytec Engineered Materials, a Phoenix-based subsidiary of West Paterson, N.J.-based Cytec Industries Inc., has 130 employees in Winona.
Scott Jackels, the plant's general manager, said that if NASA halts the shuttle program while the investigation continues, the company might need to cut production. But he said he had not received any orders to stop production as of Monday. He said the impact should become clearer in the next week or two.
After the 1986 Challenger disaster, NASA halted shuttle flights for more than 2 1/2 years. But Jackels said the Winona plant's production barely decreased because the space agency, in the course of its investigation, NASA used nearly as much of its products as it would have if flights had continued during that hiatus.
Jackels stressed that Cytec Engineered Materials had nothing to do with making the insulating tiles that cover space shuttles. NASA officials are looking at whether Columbia's tiles were damaged and whether that led to the breakup of the spacecraft.
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