Google leases massive Navy blimp hangar

 Inside Google's billion dollar airfield
Inside Google's billion dollar airfield

Google has signed a 60-year lease for an historic Navy blimp hangar near its Silicon Valley headquarters.

It will pay $1.16 billion over the life of the lease and invest $200 million in renovations in Hangar One. The landmark building is visible to drivers taking the main route between San Francisco and San Jose.

According to NASA, which now operates the property, Google plans to use Hangar One as a research, development, assembly and testing facility for its efforts in space exploration, aviation, rover/robotics and other emerging technologies. The name on the lease will be Google's Planetary Ventures.

The huge hangar is nearly 20 stories high and two-tenths of a mile long, large enough to hold six football fields. It was built at the Navy's Moffett Field in 1932 and became the base of the Navy's blimp program on the West Coast. NASA took control of the property in 1994.

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Google (GOOG) has been working with NASA since it signed an agreement to collaborate with the space agency's Ames Research Center at Moffett Field in 2005. The work there is primarily focused on super computing.

Hangar One is only about 8 minutes away from Google's global headquarters in Mountainview, Calif.

The National Trust for Historic Preservation has named Hangar One to its list of most endangered historic places. NASA said it will save about $6.3 million in annual maintenance and operating costs with the Google lease.

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