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Space exploration has a new major player in town...Google

The giant web company is spending nearly €1 billion on a San Francisco air base.

Moffett Field's Zeppelin Hanger
Moffett Field's Zeppelin Hanger
Image: Flickr/Matt Granz

GOOGLE IS TO pay €930 million to lease a historic Navy air base in San Francisco for use in projects involving aviation, space exploration and robotics.

The giant web company plans to renovate three massive hangars at the 1,000-acre site at Moffett Field Naval Air Station on the San Francisco Peninsula.

The property also includes a working air field, golf course and other buildings. 

Google plans to invest more than $200 million to refurbish the hangars and add other improvements, including a museum or educational facility that will showcase the history of Moffett and Silicon Valley, according to a NASA statement.

The agency said a Google subsidiary called Planetary Ventures LLC will use the hangars for “research, development, assembly and testing in the areas of space exploration, aviation, rover/robotics and other emerging technologies.”

Google founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin have a well-known interest in aviation and space. The company has recently acquired several smaller firms that are working on satellite technology and robotics. But a Google spokesperson has declined to discuss specific plans for the property, which is located just a few miles from the company’s main campus in Mountain View.

NASA plans to continue operating its Ames Research Center on the former Navy site.

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640px-Kluft-photo-Moffett-Federal-Airfield-Oct-2008-Img_1911 The 1,000-acre site is on the San Francisco peninsula. Source: WikiMedia Commons

Google will take over operations at the runways and hangars, including a massive structure that was built to house dirigible-style Navy airships in the 1930s.

Google already has a separate lease for another portion of the former air base, where it wants to build a second campus. Page and Brin have also used the Moffett runways for their collection of private jets, under another lease arrangement that’s been criticised by some watchdog groups who say NASA gave the executives a sweetheart deal.

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Associated Press

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