[NEW YORK] Ever-growing Google now has an airport to its name: the Internet giant has signed a 60-year lease to run a NASA airbase that comes with massive hangars for dirigibles.
Google subsidiary Planetary Ventures plans to use the historic Moffett Field in Silicon Valley for research and development in space exploration, aviation, robotics and other emerging technologies, according to a NASA statement.
The company already uses Moffett for its top executive's jets: the field is located on the southern end of San Francisco Bay just a 10-minute drive from the Googleplex headquarters in Mountain View.
Last year Google put on hold a project for a new set of offices at the NASA Research Park, halfway between the airport and Google's headquarters.
Now it has pledged to pay US$1.16 billion to run the entire 405-hectare (1,000 acre) facility for 60 years, and spend US$200 million to upgrade it and restore three huge pre-World War II wooden blimp hangars, with the largest one covering 3.2 hectares.
Besides the hangars, Moffett comes with flight operations facilities, two runways, and a privately run golf course.
The field has been controlled for years by the US space agency, which said it will be saving US$6.3 million a year in maintenance costs by leasing it out.
"As NASA expands its presence in space, we are making strides to reduce our footprint here on Earth," said NASA Administrator Charles Bolden.