Google and NASA are poised to harvest wide-ranging tech, space, and aviation synergies once a revamp of the iconic Hangar One in Mountain View is complete in 2025, officials said Friday.
The tech titan's Planetary Ventures unit began a vast restoration this week, a project that's being undertaken by CBRE, a commercial real estate firm.
When asked by this news organization whether Google and the nation's space and aviation agency could capture plenty of synergies when the tech titan moves into Hangar One, Eugene Tu, director of the NASA Ames Research Center in Mountain View, replied "Absolutely."
"Google is about data and information and that is what we are about as well, particularly scientific and engineering data and information," Tu said in the interview.
The NASA official sees plenty of ways that Google and the space agency can collaborate closely once the search giant establishes its Planetary Ventures unit inside Hangar One after the project is complete.
"We are collecting so much information from our space and science satellites trying to understand what is happening with our home planet and what is happening to it in the future," Tu said. "A lot of the technologies and capabilities that Google develops, especially in machine learning, data mining will be synergistic and very helpful."
The mammoth construction project itself, which is being managed by commercial real estate firm CBRE on behalf of Google and Planetary Ventures, is expected to start adding the cladding—the exterior of the hangar—sometime in 2023, said Alex Saleh, a CBRE executive.
"Construction is going to finish in 2025," Saleh told this news organization.
A years-long effort led by Rep. Anna Eshoo, a Democrat whose district includes parts of Santa Clara County and San Mateo County, as well as Mountain View, overcame the one-time preference on the part of both NASA and the U.S. Navy to demolish the landmark due to the expense of a full-fledged rescue of the hangar, which was born in 1932 as a Depression-era construction project that employed hundreds.
"This is an Alleluia moment," Rep. Eshoo said. "It marks the historic beginning of the restoration of our iconic Hangar One. I call this Operation Tenacious."
Eshoo said that she and Rep. Zoe Lofgren, her ally in the quest to rescue Hangar One from the wrecking ball, were able to prevail in a battle that began in earnest in 2005 when the Navy proposed the demolition of the hangar after toxic PCBs were discovered in the structure in 2002.
In 2012, a Google proposal to revamp Hangar One and other sites at Moffett Federal Airfield was languishing and gathering dust on a government shelf when Eshoo and Lofgren coaxed Daniel Tangherlini, then the director of the U.S. General Services Administration, which handles the government's real estate assets, to visit the site. That helped to turn the tide in favor of preserving and restoring Hangar One.
"We went toe to toe with these bureaucrats," said Rep. Lofgren, a Democrat whose district includes parts of Santa Clara County. "I am looking forward to the completion of this project. Not only is this an icon, but it will also be a center for research and advancement of scientific innovation for our country."
The hangar is so vast and high that the Statue of Liberty, if removed from its pedestal, could stand upright inside Hangar One. San Francisco's Salesforce Tower, if laid on its side, could be tucked away inside the cavernous space.
As a result, it's clear that plenty of space exists inside Hangar One to allow areas for Google engineers to work once the tech company's Planetary Ventures moves into the site upon completion.
Mountain View-based Google, whose iconic Googleplex headquarters are a short distance away, has said little about the work it aims to undertake inside Hangar One.
But the NASA Ames Research Center director offered some possibilities on Friday.
"You may see the development of more autonomous vehicles, particularly in aviation, just like you see with self-driving cars," Tu said. "You might see drones, not just for hobby purposes, but for flying cargo and people."
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