Earth may be too small for Google’s long-term ambitions.
The internet Godzilla has leased a Nasa airfield in California on which there are three hangars that could house robotics research facilities and vehicles for space exploration.
The 60-year, US$1.16 billion lease of Moffett Field Naval Air Station on the San Francisco peninsula includes a US$200 million commitment to refurbish the hangars and improve the site with a museum and educational facilities, The Guardian reported Tuesday.
“As Nasa expands its presence in space, we are making strides to reduce our footprint here on Earth,” National Aeronautics and Space Administration official Charles Bolden said in a statement.
The 400-hectare site includes a private golf course, a working airfield, two runways, an operations building and three large hangars, including the historic Hangar One.
David Radcliffe, vice-president of real estate and workplace services at Google, said, “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.”
Google declined to comment further on its plans for the airfield, which is next to its “Googleplex” headquarters on San Francisco Bay.
The tech giant obtained the lease through its real estate subsidiary Planetary Ventures for “research, development, assembly and testing in the areas of space exploration, aviation, rover/robotics and other emerging technologies”.
Google’s founders, Larry Page and Sergey Brin, have expressed interest in aviation and space exploration. They have offered a US$20 million prize to any private firm that lands a robot on the moon that can travel 500 metres and send back images before the end of next year.
Hangar One at Moffett is one of the world’s largest free-standing structures. It is so big that fog can form inside, just under the ceiling.
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