recommended reading

Here’s the Enormous Hangar Google Bought to Fill With Robots

Hangar One is seen at Moffett Field

Hangar One is seen at Moffett Field // Jeff Chiu/AP

Planetary Ventures, a Google shell company, will lease an airport—and an enormous hangar—from the United States space agency NASA.

Just miles from Google’s headquarters, Hangar One in Moffett Field has a floor plan of about eight acres (3.2 hectares), and when it was built in 1933 it was one the largest freestanding structures in the world. Why? To hold an airship called the USS Macon:

In this photo provided by the U.S. navy, the airship USS Macon is moored at Hangar One at Moffett Federal Airfield near Mountain View, Calif. The date is unknown.

But the USS Macon crashed into the Pacific Ocean just two years later, and since then the huge building has housed various minor military operations and NASA projects. It has mostly served as a Silicon Valley landmark, one made all the more dramatic in 2011, when the discovery of toxic waste in the walls forced NASA to strip the building down to its steel skeleton, Terminator-style:

hangar-frame-021214

That’s fitting, since Google’s proposal includes plans for research and development on robotics and rovers, as well as space and aeronautic projects. The search giant has been acquiring robotics firms at a rapid pace in the past year, including Boston Dynamics, which makes this guy:

NASA is leasing Hangar One (as well as two nearby runways, two smaller hangars, and some other buildings) to the search company as part of a cost-cutting measure. It can’t afford to restore the historic buildings, but Planetary Ventures will finance reconstruction as well as the creation of a public space for a museum or educational effort on the base—and they’ll upgrade the golf course while they’re at it.

Screen Shot 2014-02-12 at 3.18.54 PM

It may be fitting that a third generation of high tech research will occupy Hangar One, with Google’s various futuristic projects replacing the blimps of the thirties and NASA in the sixties and seventies. But the cozy relationship between NASA and Google has caused trouble before.

A shell company owned by the company’s founders and chairman, H211 LCC, which operates the company’s private jet fleet, has been leasing tarmac space at the airfield since 2007. The jets there—including a Boeing 767, 757 and four Gulfstream V jets—bought fuel at government discount prices in exchange for providing free research flights to NASA. When the Wall Street Journal revealed that comparatively few of the flights were for NASA purposes, the arrangement was ended, and the private jet fleet is headed for an airport in San Jose.

Before Planetary Ventures sealed the deal, H211 had offered to purchase the hangar, but its proposal was rejected. Bottom line: Who can stop Google from getting what it wants?

Reprinted with permission from Quartz. The original story can be found here

Threatwatch Alert

Thousands of cyber attacks occur each day

See the latest threats

JOIN THE DISCUSSION

Close [ x ] More from Nextgov
 
 

Thank you for subscribing to newsletters from Nextgov.com.
We think these reports might interest you:

  • It’s Time for the Federal Government to Embrace Wireless and Mobility

    The United States has turned a corner on the adoption of mobile phones, tablets and other smart devices, outpacing traditional desktop and laptop sales by a wide margin. This issue brief discusses the state of wireless and mobility in federal government and outlines why now is the time to embrace these technologies in government.

    Download
  • Featured Content from RSA Conference: Dissed by NIST

    Learn more about the latest draft of the U.S. National Institute of Standards and Technology guidance document on authentication and lifecycle management.

    Download
  • A New Security Architecture for Federal Networks

    Federal government networks are under constant attack, and the number of those attacks is increasing. This issue brief discusses today's threats and a new model for the future.

    Download
  • Going Agile:Revolutionizing Federal Digital Services Delivery

    Here’s one indication that times have changed: Harriet Tubman is going to be the next face of the twenty dollar bill. Another sign of change? The way in which the federal government arrived at that decision.

    Download
  • Software-Defined Networking

    So many demands are being placed on federal information technology networks, which must handle vast amounts of data, accommodate voice and video, and cope with a multitude of highly connected devices while keeping government information secure from cyber threats. This issue brief discusses the state of SDN in the federal government and the path forward.

    Download
  • The New IP: Moving Government Agencies Toward the Network of The Future

    Federal IT managers are looking to modernize legacy network infrastructures that are taxed by growing demands from mobile devices, video, vast amounts of data, and more. This issue brief discusses the federal government network landscape, as well as market, financial force drivers for network modernization.

    Download

When you download a report, your information may be shared with the underwriters of that document.