Google Leases NASA Airfield to Research Robotics and Space Exploration

Working with NASA on Robots to Fly Around the International Space Station

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Moffett Field Hanger at Moffett Field in Mountain View, Calif.
Moffett Field Hanger at Moffett Field in Mountain View, Calif. Credit: Erin Lubin/Bloomberg News

Google has agreed to a $1.2 billion lease of NASA's Moffett Field airfield in California for 60 years, as the company invests in new technologies such as robotics and aviation.

As part of the deal, Google subsidiary Planetary Ventures will invest more than $200 million in improvements at the site, which is near the company's headquarters in Mountain View, according to a NASA statement. The facility is slated for research, assembly and testing in the areas of robotics, space exploration, aviation and other technologies, it said.

Google is committing more resources to cutting-edge technologies as it looks for new ventures beyond its core online search services. The internet search provider has acquired several companies in a robotics effort that was led by Android co-founder Andy Rubin. Last month, Google said Mr. Rubin was stepping down and that James Kuffner, a research scientist, would take his position. Other research efforts have included wind power, driverless cars, drones and computerized eyewear.

In June, Google announced it was acquiring satellite company Skybox Imaging for $500 million as part of its efforts to bolster mapping services and improve internet access. The search company is also working with NASA to develop smart robots designed to fly around the International Space Station and eventually take over some menial tasks from astronauts with the aid of custom-built smartphones.

"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," David Radcliffe, vice president of real estate and workplace services at Google, said in the statement.

~ Bloomberg News ~

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