Google’s Plans for Hangar One: Robots, Rovers & Space Tech

As part of its lease of Moffett Field, Google-owned subsidiary Planetary Ventures will reskin historic Hangar One and use it to test “new robots, planetary rovers and other space or aviation technology,” the San Jose Mercury News is reporting.

NASA and the General Services Administration (GSA) selected the company’s competitive bid to lease Moffett Federal Airfield, which is now managed by the NASA Ames Research Center. The former Naval Air Station includes two other hangars and a pair of runways.

While the company is best known for its Internet search engine, software and other online services, Google’s founders and several top executives also have a well-documented interest in robots, high-altitude balloons, aviation and space exploration.

In recent months, Google has confirmed buying eight small robotics companies for a mysterious new division headed by its former Android software chief, Andy Rubin. Google co-founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin already own a fleet of jets now parked at Moffett Field. And Page, the company’s CEO, has reportedly invested in a separate company that hopes to mine asteroids for precious metals.

While a Google spokeswoman didn’t respond to requests for more details about the company’s plans, it’s clear the massive Hangar One would provide plenty of room for tinkering with exotic hardware. The Depression-era structure is 200 feet tall and covers 8 acres. All told, the proposed lease would provide more than 1 million square feet of space in Hangar One and its two neighbors, known as Two and Three.

Hangar One once housed the Navy’s rigid airships. The Navy removed the hangar’s exterior covering, which contained asbestos and other toxic substances, leaving behind a giant skeleton that blotted the landscape.

There are ongoing negotiations between NASA, GSA and Planetary Ventures to finalize the lease.

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