Leadership in Space

NASA Signs Lease With Google For Coming 60 Years

Hangar 1 from the air

Moffett Field’s Hangar One is a recognizable landmark in the San Francisco Bay area and a part of its early aviation history. The Navy built Hangar One at Moffett Field in 1932 for the USS Macon and to serve as the West Coast base for the U.S. lighter-than-air aviation program. The Navy transferred the hangar to NASA in 1994 after Moffett Field was decommissioned.

   NASA Signs Lease with Planetary Ventures LLC (a Google Company) for Use of Moffett Airfield and Restoration of Hangar One

After years of using Moffett Field as the home and launch pad for the private jets of Google’s founders, the company has agreed to a deal in which it will lease the airfield from NASA for the next 60 years. As part of the lease, Google will take over operations of the airfield while the U.S. government retains ownership of the land.

Deal Part of Agency Effort to Reduce Costs, Surplus Property

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.

“As NASA expands its presence in space, we are making strides to reduce our footprint here on Earth,” said NASA Administrator Charles Bolden. “We want to invest taxpayer resources in scientific discovery, technology development and space exploration – not in maintaining infrastructure we no longer need. Moffett Field plays an important role in the Bay Area and is poised to continue to do so through this lease arrangement.”

After a fair and open competition, the U.S. General Services Administration (GSA) and NASA selected Planetary Ventures, LLC as the preferred lessee in February 2014 and began lease negotiations. The negotiated lease, which is neither a procurement action nor a government contract, will put Hangar One to new use and eliminate NASA’s management costs of the airfield, with the federal government retaining title to the property.

“Hangar One is an important landmark in Silicon Valley,” said GSA Administrator Dan Tangherlini. “GSA was proud to support NASA in delivering the best value to taxpayers while restoring this historic facility and enhancing the surrounding community.”

FLI 2 Hangar One

In 1997, during routine testing, NASA Ames discovered an unusual toxin called a polychlorinated biphenyl (PCB), specifically Aroclor 1268, in the Center’s storm drain settling basin. Subsequent sampling programs determined in 2002 that the Galbestos used in 1932 to make the external siding of Hangar 1, was the source of Aroclor 1268. As a result of the high levels of PCBs present in the Hangar 1 building components, Hangar 1 was closed to human use as required by the Toxic Substance Control Act (TSCA).

Planetary Ventures currently plans to invest more than $200 million in capital improvements to the property and commits, in this lease, to several undertakings that will benefit the public upon completion, including:

  • Refurbishing and protecting historic Hangar One in accordance with standards established for historic properties by the U.S. Secretary of the Interior;
  • Rehabilitating historic Hangars Two and Three;
  • Operating MFA in accordance with the Programmatic Environmental Impact Statement for public and private use; and,
  • Creating an educational facility where the public can explore the site’s legacy and the role of technology in the history of Silicon Valley.

“We are fortunate to have had significant input from surrounding communities on setting a future path for Moffett Field,” said Ames Director S. Pete Worden. “With the involvement of the citizens of Mountain View and Sunnyvale, we are confident the results will benefit all parties.”

Planetary Ventures will assume operation of the site following the finalization of a joint plan with NASA, the federal Environmental Protection Agency and California Regional Water Quality Control Board to ensure continued environmental stewardship and protection of the existing remedies of the site.

As a tenant to NASA, Planetary Ventures will be required to comply with all applicable laws, regulations and policies, including those on topics of historic preservation, environmental compliance, security, health and safety, and airfield operations to support ongoing missions and other government objectives.

“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, Vice President of Real Estate and Workplace Services at Google Inc.

Stitched Panorama

Now 75 years old, this iconic landmark is showing its age. As a result of a 2003 inspection revealing PCBs and other contaminants are leaking from its metallic exterior, the facility has been closed for the past five years. This year, the Navy announced plans to remove all the contaminated siding material from Hangar One, seal the structural frame and leave the hangar’s framework and flooring standing. However, their plans do not address the Hangar’s reskinning. At the Navy’s recent public hearing on Aug. 26, 2008, members of the community expressed overwhelming support for full restoration.

Once renovations are complete, Hangar One will again be home to high-tech innovation as Planetary Ventures begins using the historic facility for research, development, assembly and testing in the areas of space exploration, aviation, rover/robotics and other emerging technologies. Hangars Two and Three will be used for similar purposes.

For more information on Moffett Field, visit:


For information about NASA missions and programs, visit:


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