According to a NASA statement, Google Inc (NASDAQ:GOOGL) (NASDAQ:GOOG) will use the site for research, development, assembly and testing related to “space exploration, aviation, rover/robotics and other emerging technologies.” Plans include the renovation of the historic Hangar One, which was used to store airships, as well as two other hangars at the airfield.
A spokesman for Google was not willing to elaborate.
NASA leases Moffett Airfield to Google: The details
The space agency stands to save around $6.3 million per year in maintenance and operation costs, as well as covering the $1.16 billion in rental costs. The site is currently maintained by NASA’s Ames Research Center.
Back in February, NASA and the U.S. General Services Administration (GSA) announced that they had decided that Google subsidiary Planetary Ventures was their preferred lessee to maintain Moffett Federal Airfield and restore Hangar One.
The entire site covers an area of around 1,000 acres on South San Francisco Bay, and takes in the aforementioned hangars, as well as an operations building, two runways and a private golf course.
Restoring the hangars and setting up a public education facility at the site will cost Google around $200 million. The company aims to provide a facility that will educate visitors on the legacy of the site and the role of technology in the history of Silicon Valley.
The facility is used by H211, a company essentially controlled by Google executives to manage their private jets. Criticism has arisen in the past because the company buys fuel at a discount from the government .
The lease of the airfield has come in for criticism from Consumer Watchdog, which has a long history of conflicts with Google. The organization has said that the terms of the lease grant Google “unprecedented control of a federal facility to use as its own playground.”
The company has previously outlined plans to undertake testing of its driverless cars at Moffett. Consumer Watchdog says that this would allow Google to dodge state laws which require a driver to be present during any such tests.
According to U.S. Representative Anna G. Eshoo, the lease agreement “honors Moffett Field and Hangar One as part of U.S. Naval history, while looking to the future by promoting research into space, aviation and other emerging technologies.”
Google has come under increasing scrutiny from regulators and consumer groups concerned by its far-reaching influence.