NASA said Friday that it would make deep cuts in its work force and streamline its operations as its budget shrinks in a new era of austerity.
Under the plan announced by Daniel S. Goldin, administrator of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration, the agency would cut about 28,000 civil service and contractor positions, restructure each of its 10 centers - several would lose 20 to 30 percent of their workers - and start a process that would eventually turn over operation of the space shuttle program to private industry.
Industry officials have said they could run the shuttle program for less money than the government and still maintain safety.
Goldin said planned improvements in efficiency meant that none of the agency’s programs would be canceled or even significantly curtailed.
The plan would mean the loss of 3,560 Civil Service jobs at the space agency, reducing its work force to 17,500 people by the year 2000 from 21,060.
After the cuts, he said, NASA would be the size it was in 1961, before the nation began the Apollo program that culminated July 20, 1969, when astronaut Neil Armstrong walked on the moon.
The proposal would reduce the number of jobs at NASA contractors by about 25,000 nationwide.
Goldin said that every agency in the government was facing streamlining or reductions because of budget constraints, and that the space agency had done its part.
NASA officials said they believe they have the authority to make most of the changes, but some may require congressional action.