Google needs space; rents NASA airfield

Google has signed a deal to rent NASA's historic Moffett Federal Airfield for a minimum of 60 years, as it looks to expand its research in space exploration and robotics.


Hangar One at Moffett Field in the mid-1930s
Underwood Archives | Getty Images
Hangar One at Moffett Field in the mid-1930s

The tech giant will pump $200 million into the 1,000-acre property, which is located on South San Francisco Bay, California, NASA said. The deal will see Google-subsidiary Planetary Ventures pay NASA a total of $1.16 billion in rent.

The airfield includes three storage facilities for air or space craft, known as Hangars One, Two and Three, as well as a flight operations building, two runways and a private golf course.

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Hangar One was built in 1933 and is one of the world's largest freestanding structures.

"Once renovations are complete, Hangar One will again be home to high-tech innovation, as Planetary Ventures begins using the historic facility for research, development, assembly and testing in the areas of space exploration, aviation, rover/robotics and other emerging technologies," NASA said in a statement.

There are also plans to renovate Hangars Two and Three, and create an educational facility, "where the public can explore the site's legacy and the role of technology in the history of Silicon Valley".

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"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, Google's vice-president of real estate and workplace services, said in a statement.

NASA said the deal was part of its efforts to "reduce our footprint here on Earth".

"We want to invest taxpayer resources in scientific discovery, technology development and space exploration – not in maintaining infrastructure we no longer need," Charles Bolden, NASA administrator, said in a statement.

- By CNBC's Katrina Bishop