The federal government on Monday struck an agreement with a Google subsidiary to restore historic Hangar One at Moffett Field in northern California as well as operate the airfield’s two runways.
Hangar One has been stripped down to its skeletal framework after its skin was found to be leaching toxic chemicals. Under this week’s deal, Planetary Ventures will spend more than $200 million to refurbish and protect Hangar One — which was built after World War I to house Navy dirigibles — as well as rehabilitate Hangars Two and Three.
The agreement calls for Planetary Ventures to pay NASA $1.6 billion to rent about 1,000 acres at the airfield located on South San Francisco Bay over the next 60 years. NASA will continue to operate its Ames Research Center and other groups, including the California Air National Guard, will remain there as well, reported the San Jose Mercury News.
Local officials and groups that fought to preserve the hangar hailed the deal. “This is great news,” said Lenny Siegel, executive director of the Center for Public Environmental Oversight.
Mountain View Mayor Chris Clark said he was relieved the airfield would not be turned over to a firm or agency that would significantly increase the number of flights there.
“It’s a major win,” Clark said. “When I step back and look at what could have happened before Google stepped in, it really is the best possible outcome we could have had.”
When renovations are complete, Planetary Ventures plans to use the airfield facilities for research, development, assembly and testing in the areas of space exploration, aviation, rover/robotics and other emerging technologies, according to a NASA press release.
“We want to invest taxpayer resources in scientific discovery, technology development and space exploration — not in maintaining infrastructure we no longer need. Moffett Field plays an important role in the Bay Area and is poised to continue to do so through this lease arrangement,” said NASA Administrator Charles Bolden.