NASA plans to add 12 more astronauts to its corps of space fliers to meet a growing demand for space shuttle crews. Seventy-eight astronauts are now based at the Johnson Space Center in Houston. The shuttle, which can carry a crew of seven, is rapidly becoming the nation's space workhorse, taking a variety of satellites and scientific equipment into orbit. Four more flights are scheduled this year and 11 are planned for 1984.
Meanwhile, President Reagan endorsed a plan that would let private interests take over the operation of a portion of the US space program now being phased out by the government.