Back in late 2011, three Google executives reportedly approached NASA because they knew the agency was facing a problem. NASA was managing the eight-acre Hangar One, which is best remembered for being an airship construction facility 80 years ago. Renovations were getting expensive, though, and the executives had a proposal: it would take over the fixing-up, as long as they could park several private jets in the facility.
Fast-forward a couple of years, and after a competitive process Google real estate subsidiary Planetary Ventures LLC is going to negotiate on a lease with two goals: fix up Hangar One and manage Moffett Federal Airfield. If approved, the lease would remove the NASA Ames Research Center’s management costs.
It’s another example of NASA looking to lease out its historic facilities to the private sector (examples: here and here) to save money amid cost-consciousness by federal legislators, something that administrator Charles Bolden highlighted in a statement. “The agreement announced today will benefit the American taxpayer and the community around Moffett,” he said. “It will allow NASA to focus its resources on core missions, while protecting the federal need to use Moffett Field as a continued, limited-use airfield.”
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Lease terms are still being negotiated, but these are some of the things expected to be a part of it: rehabilitating Hangars One, 2 and 3, fixing up a golf course, starting a public use and educational facility, and getting rid of NASA’s operation and maintenance cost of the area, among other things. In a press release, NASA did not give a date as to when these negotiations would conclude.
As Wired points out, this is an indication that Google and NASA are becoming trusted partners in ventures such as this. “It underscores the increasingly tight relationship between Google and the space agency research center, located just three miles from Google’s headquarters,” wrote Robert McMillan. “Google has already leased more than 40 acres of NASA Ames space to build a 1.2-million-square-foot R&D facility, and the company is working with NASA to test the world’s first quantum computer at Ames too.”
You can read the request for proposals and other information on Hangar One at this NASA website.