Google subsidiary Planetary Ventures has signed a lease with NASA to rent the historic airship hangar and other buildings on Moffett Field in Mountain View, California, citing aviation research as one goal for the site. The company will pay about $1.16 billion over a 60-year lease for use of about 1,000 acres, including three hangars and two runways. Space exploration, robotics, and other emerging technologies also were cited by Google as future uses for the facility. Local supporters of aviation and history were relieved that Google plans to renovate the huge, distinctive airship hangar, built in the 1930s, which was closed in 2003 due to issues with toxic chemicals.
The Navy had stripped the hangar’s contaminated panels, exposing the bare structure, then lacked the funding to complete the work. “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,” said David Radcliffe, a Google spokesman, in a news release. Google’s private aviation fleet has long been based at the airfield. Under terms of the lease, the airfield will remain open for public use.