WASHINGTON (CN) - Planetary Ventures LLC, a subsidiary of Google, has been chosen to operate Moffett Federal Airfield and rehabilitate historic Hangar One, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration announced, Monday.
Moffett Airfield is a joint civic and military airport located near Mountain View in the Silicon Valley, according to the NASA website. It and Hangar One were constructed in 1931 for the U.S. Navy for its airship operations. After WWII, it was used for maritime air patrol. The interior of Hangar One is eight acres in size, one of the largest free-standing structures in the world and so large that fog sometimes forms inside it, the website said.
The base was closed in 1994 and is now operated by the NASA Ames Research Center, according to the NASA website. The airfield is still used by the California Air National Guard, NASA, Lockheed Martin Space Systems, the Santa Clara County Sheriff's Department and Air Force One during presidential visits to the Bay Area. A number of Google executives also house their private planes at the site, the website said.
In 1997, toxic chemicals were found to be leaking from Hangar One into the surrounding wetlands because of the lead paint and other substances used to coat it, according to the NASA website. Since it is a Naval Historical Monument and listed by the National Trust for Historic Preservation as one of America's Most Endangered Places, there was resistance to tearing it down, the website said.
Planetary Ventures was chosen for the rehabilitation by the U.S. General Services Administration and NASA after a competitive bidding process, according to NASA's statement. NASA's press release stated its aims were to rehabilitate Hangar One, eliminate NASA's costs to operate the airfield, reposition Moffett Airfield for more flight operations, and eventually provide a net financial gain to the government rather than continue to be a drain.
"At NASA we're not only committed to exploring our solar system, but also making sure we're spending tax dollars wisely. That's why we've been so aggressive at making surplus or under-utilized property available to the private sector or other government partners," said NASA Administrator Charles Bolden in a prepared statement.
Planetary Ventures will be required to "reskin" Hangar One and rehabilitate its sisters - Hangars Two and Three. It also will have to upgrade the existing golf course and create an educational facility for public use, according to NASA's Monday statement.
"Hangar One was the landmark of Silicon Valley well before the rise of today's high tech titans. Naming a lessee is a testament to GSA's commitment to providing the best value for the agency's federal partners and the American people. NASA's partnership with the private sector will allow the agency to restore this treasure for more efficient use. GSA's creative approach to putting underperforming federal facilities to new uses creates opportunities for development while eliminating NASA's management costs of the airfield and saving taxpayer dollars," said GSA Administrator Dan Tangherlini in a prepared statement.
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