Google to con­vert air base into r&d cen­ter

JoongAng Daily - - Business & Industry - AP

Google has signed a long-term lease for part of a his­toric navy air base, where it plans to ren­o­vate three mas­sive hangars and use them for projects in­volv­ing avi­a­tion, space ex­plo­ration and ro­bot­ics.

The gi­ant In­ter­net company will pay $1.16 bil­lion in rent over 60 years for the prop­erty, which also in­cludes a work­ing air field, golf course and other build­ings. The 1,000-acre site is part of the for­mer Mof­fett Field Naval Air Sta­tion on the San Francisco Penin­sula. ing a mu­seum or ed­u­ca­tional fa­cil­ity that will showcase the his­tory of Mof­fett and Sil­i­con Val­ley, ac­cord­ing to a NASA state­ment.

The agency said a Google sub­sidiary called Plan­e­tary Ven­tures will use the hangars for “re­search, de­vel­op­ment, assem­bly and test­ing in the ar­eas of space ex­plo­ration, avi­a­tion, rover/ro­bot­ics and other emerg­ing tech­nolo­gies.’’

Google founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin have a well-known in­ter­est in avi­a­tion and space. The company has re­cently ac­quired sev­eral smaller firms that are work­ing on satel­lite tech­nol­ogy and ro­bot­ics. But a Google spokesper­son de­clined Mon­day to dis­cuss spe­cific plans for the prop­erty.

NASA plans to con­tinue op­er­at­ing its Ames Re­search Cen­ter on the for­mer navy site. Google will take over op­er­a­tions at the run­ways and hangars, in­clud­ing a mas­sive struc­ture that was built to house di­ri­gi­ble-style navy air­ships in the 1930s.

NASA said the deal will save it $6.3 mil­lion in an­nual main­te­nance and op­er­a­tion costs. Lo­cal of­fi­cials praised Google’s prom­ise to re­store the his­toric struc­ture known as Hangar One, which is a San Francisco Bay Area land­mark.

Google al­ready has a sep­a­rate lease for another por­tion of the for­mer air base, where it wants to build a sec­ond cam­pus. Page and Brin have also used the Mof­fett run­ways for their col­lec­tion of pri­vate jets, un­der another lease ar­range­ment that’s been crit­i­cized by some watch­dog groups who say NASA gave the ex­ec­u­tives a sweet­heart deal.

“We look for­ward to rolling up our sleeves to re­store the re­mark­able land­mark Hangar One, which for years has been con­sid­ered one of the most en­dan­gered his­toric sites in the United States,” David Rad­cliffe, vice pres­i­dent of real es­tate and work­place ser­vices at Google, said in the state­ment.

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