It was a busy year for a number of commercial space companies. While most of them made considerable progress, the news wasn’t all good.
A Dream Deferred
Sierra Nevada Corporation (SNC) had a pretty rough year, losing out on two major contracts and laying off more than 100 employees.
On a Friday in May, just as everyone was preparing for the long Memorial Day weekend, Virgin Galactic announced it was dumping the hybrid rubber motor SNC developed for SpaceShipTwo in favor of a hybrid nylon one produced by Scaled Composites.
MOUNTAIN VIEW, Calif. (EASEF PR) – The Earth, Air and Space Educational Foundation (EASEF), a Silicon Valley non-profit corporation, today announced that it has received a commitment of funds and material support from Google, Inc. The development grant will help EASEF advance its goal of establishing a public use Collaboratory for science and technology education and cultural activities in the Silicon Valley region.
Created with a commitment to the restoration and revitalization of facilities at Moffett Federal Airfield, which includes facilities that comprise a National Historic District, the EASEF plans to establish a Grand Challenges Learning, Exhibition, Conference and Event Collaboratory on Moffett property. The support pledged by Google to EASEF includes a cash donation and commitment to help establish the proposed Collaboratory.
SANTA MONICA, Calif. (Consumer Watchdog PR) – NASA’s just announced lease agreement with a Google subsidiary to manage Moffett Federal Airfield wrongly rewards the Internet giant’s executives for longstanding abuses at Ames Research Center, Consumer Watchdog said.
NASA claimed the lease would save the agency approximately $6.3 million annually in maintenance and operation costs and provide $1.16 billion in rent over the initial 60-year lease term.
“In fact the lease gives Google unprecedented control of a federal facility to use as its own playground,” said John M. Simpson, director of Consumer Watchdog’s Privacy Project.
Deal Part of Agency Effort to Reduce Costs, Surplus Property
MOFFETT FIELD, Calif. (NASA PR) — In an effort to reduce costs and shed surplus property, NASA today signed a lease with Planetary Ventures, LLC to manage Moffett Federal Airfield (MFA), an agency facility located in Moffett Field, California, and rehabilitate its historic Hangar One. NASA estimates the lease will save the agency approximately $6.3 million annually in maintenance and operation costs and provide $1.16 billion in rent over the initial 60-year lease term.
MFA, currently maintained by NASA’s Ames Research Center in Moffett Field, California, includes approximately 1,000 acres of land located on South San Francisco Bay. The land includes Hangars One, Two and Three, an airfield flight operations building, two runways and a private golf course.
In February, the General Services Administration announced that Planetary Ventures, a Google-backed company, had submitted the winning bid for a 20-year lease on Moffett Field, which is currently managed by NASA Ames. Negotiations were to be complete by July 1, but Raile reports discussions appear to be in limbo.
MOFFETT FIELD, Calif. (DSI PR) — Deep Space last month opened a lab and office at the NASA Ames Research Park at Moffett Field in Silicon Valley, and expanded its staff. The new facility provides space to begin assembly of the company’s initial spacecraft for an exciting project to be announced next month, with room to expand. The new location enhances the visibility of Deep Space with the NASA-Ames leadership for partnering and contracting. Ames is NASA’s lead center for small spacecraft and hosts a number of agency experts in commercial space. The new facility is in close proximity to technology-savvy investors, partners and a skilled technology workforce.
Deep Space also is growing its team with several new hires and research collaborators. Colorado-based Rhonda Stevenson is now Chief Sales and Promotions Officer, starting with the revamp of the Deep Space By Design retail web site and also covering games, apps, and retail product licensing.
As I reported here exclusively back on May 11, Google has been in talks with Virgin Galactic for acquisition of its LauncherOne satellite technology and an equity stake in Richard Branson’s space tourism company. Sky Newsreports:
The talks are likely to lead to a deal with two main elements, according to insiders.
The first will see Google inject hundreds of millions of dollars into a joint venture, with Virgin Galactic folding in the technology it has developed as part of its efforts to build the world’s first space tourism business.
The second component will involve Google spending roughly $30m (£17.8m) in return for a small stake in the Virgin Galactic holding company.
The terms of the alliance have not yet been finalised and could yet be altered before a deal is struck.
A person close to Google said, though, that its £17.8m investment could value Virgin Galactic at as much as £1.2bn, equating to a shareholding of approximately 1.5%.
While Elon Musk’s lawsuit against the U.S. Air Force has dominated the headlines, another development with the potential to restructure the space industry has flown completely under the radar: a deepening relationship between Virgin Galactic and Google.
Overt the past month, Virgin Galactic conducted a series of Google Hangouts about its space tourism program in conjunction with the Google Science Fair. One hangout featured VG Vice President William Pomerantz and Richard Branson’s son, Sam; a second had three engineers live from The Spaceship Company’s FAITH hangar in Mojave, Calif; and a third featured two ticket holders who will be aboard future SpaceShipTwo suborbital tourism flights.
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.
MOFFETT FIELD, Calif. (NASA/GSA PR) — The U.S. General Services Administration (GSA) and NASA have selected Planetary Ventures LLC as the preferred lessee on a lease to rehabilitate historic Hangar One and to manage Moffett Federal Airfield, currently managed by NASA’s Ames Research Center in Moffett Field, Calif. The lease will put Hangar One to new use and eliminate NASA’s management costs of the airfield.
MOUNTAIN VIEW, CALIF. SEPTEMBER 24, 2013 (SVSC PR) — A historic piece of real estate, NASA Ames Moffett Field’s 1,000+ acre airfield, 3 iconic hangars, including the famous hangar one and a professional golf course are up for a development bid this October. Two previous NASA scientists, Dr. Sean Casey and Dr. Peri Pappadopoulos, Co-Founders of Silicon Valley Space Center, plan to win it!
PALO ALTO, CA (Anna Eshoo PR) — Following a meeting with Congresswoman Anna G. Eshoo (D-Palo Alto), GSA, NASA, and the White House at the Capitol on Tuesday, February 26, the General Services Administration will issue a Notice of Intent regarding Hangar One and Moffett Federal Airfield, which reflects the following:
1. Moffett Federal Airfield will NOT be excessed. It will remain a restricted Federal Airfield and NASA will remain its custodian.
2. The Notice of Intent outlines a competitive bid process and the Request for Proposal (RFP) will be released this spring seeking a qualified lessee to provide for the rehabilitation and adaptive reuse of historic Hangar One. (more…)
A consumer watchdog group called (of all things) Consumer Watchdog has issued a report focusing on Google’s allegedly close relationship with the federal government. One of the issues they have raised involves Google’s $1.3 million per year lease of space at Moffett Field, which is under the control of NASA Ames:
One of the most visible signs of Google’s clout, the report said, is the National Aeronautics and Space Administration’s Moffett Airfield, near Google’s world headquarters. When a deal between NASA and top Google executives to use the base was first disclosed in 2007, it called for only four jets to use the base.
But newly released government records show that the Google executive fleet has now grown to six jets and two helicopters, while at least 40 Google employees hold security badges at the base and all of the planes are supplied with Department of Defense jet fuel.
Things are a bit slow this weekend as Americans take time to remember the military veterans who have made the ultimate sacrifice for our nation. I was reminded of this today during a visit to NASA Ames Research Center here in Mountain View. The facility was a military base from 1931-94. The California Air National Guard operates out of Moffett Field.
To all veterans, living and dead, who sacrificed so much so that I could write these words today:
NASA Ames and a group of local universities led by the University of California at Santa Cruz are in discussions about the development of a major new campus at Moffett Field to conduct space travel research, the Mountain View Voice reports.
“UCSC, Santa Clara University, the Foothill-De Anza College District and Carnegie Melon University have all signed a letter of intent with NASA Ames, with all of them seeking a major presence in the NASA Research Park planned for Moffett.
“‘It’s an agreement to hold open discussions between us and NASA to see if we can arrive at a plan that will allow us to implement a vision for the research park,’ said Bill Berry, managing director of UCSC’s Affiliated Research Center.”