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:
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.
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.