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Google Founder Offer $33M For Use of NASA Airship Hangar 86

Posted by samzenpus
from the picking-up-the-check dept.
theodp writes "The Mercury News reports that NASA is considering an offer from Google's billionaire founders to provide '100 percent' funding to save Hangar One. Larry Page, Sergey Brin and Eric Schmidt have, through a company they control, proposed paying the full $33 million cost of revamping Hangar One, once home to the Navy's giant airships at Moffett Field, in return for use up to two-thirds of the floor space of the hangar to house their fleet of eight private jets. In October, the Googlers struck an agreement with NASA Ames calling for the use of their 'co-located' Alpha fighter jet to, among other things, help NASA mitigate wildfires and study global warming."
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Google Founder Offer $33M For Use of NASA Airship Hangar

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  • Wonder if they've asked to put google advertising on the sides of the airships....

    • Re:Unmentioned (Score:5, Informative)

      by riverat1 (1048260) on Monday December 12, 2011 @05:08AM (#38341150)

      The Navy no longer has any airships. The hangar is left over from WWII when they used blimps to patrol off the coast for Japanese submarines.

      • Re:Unmentioned (Score:5, Informative)

        by Anonymous Coward on Monday December 12, 2011 @05:28AM (#38341194)

        The smaller hangers to the east of the runways were for blimps. Hanger One was built for the USS Macon, a rigid airship that was lost in 1935. It's a magnificent, incredibly large building, that is even more incredible when you realize that it was filled up by one object that flew.

        The US Navy does own some lighter than air craft, including the MZ-3A which is a blimp. But, hey... it mostly floats.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday December 12, 2011 @04:27AM (#38341038)

    Mythbusters... Where are they going to perform their experiments if most of the hangar is full of planes?

    • by Anonymous Coward
      Duh ... they'll just fire the cannon over the airplanes.
    • by k6mfw (1182893)
      they have been using Hangers 2 and 3 which do not have many aircraft inside. The Airship Ventures "Eureka" takes little space (it is a pretty small airship for those two hangers). Air Guard, 129 Rescue Wing, supposably doesn't want to place aircraft inside Hangers 2 and 3. Mythbusters will be able to use those hangers for quite some time.
      • A "hanger" is the triangular-looking thing with a hook on the top you use to hang your shirts in your closet. A "hangar" is a large, enclosed structure usually used to store aircraft.

        I see this usage mangled almost as often as "to/too" and "they're/there/their." Really, folks. It's not that hard. In this day and age where you can look up anything in an instant on the Internet -- and get real-time translations for non-native speakers -- there is no excuse for such ignorance.

  • by Coward Anonymous (110649) on Monday December 12, 2011 @04:34AM (#38341058)

    Will this end up being another government subsidy for people who don't need it or will there be a real lease involved?

    • by Anonymous Coward on Monday December 12, 2011 @05:12AM (#38341162)

      I suspect it's a bit more convoluted. The shell company that technically owns the jets and that will be using 2/3rds of the hangar has an odd relationship with NASA, refurbishing old jets, from small fighters to Boeing 767's, and turning them into "science" planes. It's more like this company is subsidizing the government. Sort of.

      That "sort of" is what's intriguing. The jets are being refurbished, thanks to a massive pool of unaudited money, for vague "science" missions. The closest thing that comes to mind is Hughes and his odd relationship with the government: that entanglement produced the Glomar Explorer ostensibly for deep-sea mineral research but really for a CIA program to recover a Soviet submarine. The Google-NASA public-private partnership for "science" or "research" may be a way of hiding expensive and highly experimental espionage programs from auditors by keeping programs off the public books. The flights so far have included "observation" of a returning ESA space vehicle, so they have the capability to monitor signals from an inbound object; maybe also satellites? If you think all this sounds a bit paranoid, consider that Google and the CIA have some similar investment interests [wired.com].

      • wrong (Score:1, Interesting)

        by Anonymous Coward

        This is the story of rich google founders using their money to buy the right to fly their planes into Moffet field airport at any hour of the night.

        This company isn't really subsidizing the government at all, basically they are just causing more noise pollution at Moffet field and not paying any of the commercial airport landing/parking fees.

        This is just another example of how rich folks don't pay their fair share of taxes (e.g., SJC landing fees) and don't have to follow the rules of the little guys have t

        • Re:wrong (Score:4, Insightful)

          by ShakaUVM (157947) on Monday December 12, 2011 @07:30AM (#38341532) Homepage Journal

          I love how dropping $33M can be read as tax evasion by you.

          (Or do you really think the airport use fees at SJC will tally up to $33M? That's a LOT of flights at $40 a pop.)

          • by jedidiah (1196)

            Except this kind of how taxes for corporations and independent contractors work. If you don't want to pay taxes on it, then you can just blow it on a Mac Book Air or hangar space for NASA.

            This is why republican rhetoric about "raising taxes on the rich" is so bogus. They don't pay taxes in the same way as normal people and certainly don't in the manner that the "jobs rhetoric" would seem to imply.

            • They don't pay taxes in the same way as normal people and certainly don't in the manner that the "jobs rhetoric" would seem to imply.

              You're right, we don't pay taxes in the same way as normal people We pay far *more* than the average taxpayer. I'm speaking as someone with a combined annual income of over US$200K. It puts me in the top 5% of all wage earners. Yet, collectively, the top few percentile of all federal taxpayers pays pays more than half the total taxes taken in by Uncle Sam. And you can't say it's wealth disparity, either, as the top few percentile earn less than 20% of the entire wealth nationally.

              As for "jobs rhetoric,

          • Moffet Field is a 10 minute drive [google.com] to Google HQ; SJC is a whopping 7 minutes more [google.com]. More importantly, however, I guess they get to skip the airport security lines, etc. Flying from Moffet is all about convenience and (conspicuously) living it large. What they did to get access to Moffet is a bit of a mystery, but it probably involved deals such as this.

        • Re:wrong (Score:5, Insightful)

          by Ihmhi (1206036) <i_have_mental_health_issues@yahoo.com> on Monday December 12, 2011 @08:34AM (#38341680)

          There's a difference between loopholing your way out of taxes and (practically) buying your own airfield. This is pretty clean cut IMO. There's fees at a local airport but not a private one, and therefore some rich dudes buy a hangar at the private airport. I don't really see that as "evasion" per se. It'd be like owning a garage and someone calls you out for "stealing" revenue from the city's parking meters by not using them.

        • by anagama (611277)

          It depends. How much is the hangar worth? How much would it cost to build or lease such a hangar? I don't really know the answer to those questions.

          Random site found by googling, shows that a 20,000 sq ft hanger will run about $1.9m. http://www.reedconstructiondata.com/rsmeans/models/hangar/ [reedconstructiondata.com]

          Hangar One is 349,964 sq ft. ( http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hangar_One_(Mountain_View,_California) [wikipedia.org] ). I don't know if costs go down or up when building a hangar 17.5x the size of a $1.9m hangar, but if there is a lin

          • Like many, I am disgusted by the way the US takes from the middle class in order give assets and special treatment to the super-rich,

            And precisely how is the US "taking" this hangar from the middle class and "giving" it away when it's being *paid for*? Or did you somehow overlook the $33M that changed hands in exchange for use of the hangar? If anything, the deal is a very good one for the hangar owners since they're going to get $33M to lease a space that would otherwise have generated zero dollars and stood largely unused!

        • Isn't Moffet government land (i.e. publicly-owned)? So, my taxes would be paying for the ground under Google's founders' eight planes? (That's one plane for every day of the week, plus Feb 29.) I guess Google's changed its unlivable motto "Don't be evil" to: "If ya got it, flaunt it."

          Meanwhile they practice discriminatory ageism in hiring (for which they're being sued), arbitrarily lock people out of their online data (after enticing people to use their free service as being indispensable), and share pers

        • I know what landing, hangar, service, and occasional tie-down fees are for smaller jets. I can only imagine what they would be for something like a private 737.

          That 33 million probably ends up being much cheaper in the long-run than parking those giants at any normal FBO.

      • The shell company that technically owns the jets and that will be using 2/3rds of the hangar has an odd relationship with NASA, refurbishing old jets, from small fighters to Boeing 767's, and turning them into "science" planes. It's more like this company is subsidizing the government.

        Its even more like ultra-rich geeks are spending lots of money on a hobby that happens to align with the objectives of a public agency.

        The Google-NASA public-private partnership for "science" or "research" may be a way of hidi

  • by Anonymous Coward

    I guess that's one thing that X-COM UFO Defense got wrong. X-COM's not trying to get funding from the countries: they're trying to get funding from the companies.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    I love that term 'considering offer'. Because I picture NASA employees secretly partying with bottles of champagne behind the scenes.

  • If you were wondering what the Google boys have been drinking a lot of lately, maybe that's Red Bull.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Alpha_Jet_-_Red_Bull_-_ILA2002.jpg [wikipedia.org]

  • by theodp (442580) on Monday December 12, 2011 @05:09AM (#38341152)

    For the Highest Fliers, New Scrutiny [wsj.com]: Messrs. Page and Brin, the Google co-founders, operate at least four aircraft registered under various companies that aren't connected to Google, FAA and other aviation records show: a Boeing 767, a Boeing 757, plus two Gulfstream G-V's. During the four-year period, the jets' most frequent destinations outside of their northern California base were Los Angeles, New York and Washington. For last year's eclipse-viewing journey, the 767 and a Gulfstream V each made two round-trips from the U.S. mainland to Tahiti. Those flights used an estimated 52,000 gallons of aviation fuel and in total cost upwards of $430,000, according to calculations by Conklin & de Decker Aviation Information. The research firm is hired by some public companies to provide aircraft-cost estimates for regulatory filings. A Google spokeswoman confirmed that the Tahiti journey was for the eclipse, saying the pair brought a group with them on the planes. Messrs. Page and Brin have mitigated the greenhouse gas emissions from their aircraft usage by purchasing an even greater amount of carbon offsets, she said. They also frequently lend their planes for philanthropic and scientific missions.

    • by Anonymous Coward

      For the Highest Fliers, New Scrutiny [wsj.com]: Messrs. Page and Brin, the Google co-founders, operate at least four aircraft registered under various companies that aren't connected to Google, FAA and other aviation records show: a Boeing 767, a Boeing 757, plus two Gulfstream G-V's. During the four-year period, the jets' most frequent destinations outside of their northern California base were Los Angeles, New York and Washington. For last year's eclipse-viewing journey, the 767 and a Gulfstream V each made two round-trips from the U.S. mainland to Tahiti. Those flights used an estimated 52,000 gallons of aviation fuel and in total cost upwards of $430,000, according to calculations by Conklin & de Decker Aviation Information. The research firm is hired by some public companies to provide aircraft-cost estimates for regulatory filings. A Google spokeswoman confirmed that the Tahiti journey was for the eclipse, saying the pair brought a group with them on the planes. Messrs. Page and Brin have mitigated the greenhouse gas emissions from their aircraft usage by purchasing an even greater amount of carbon offsets, she said. They also frequently lend their planes for philanthropic and scientific missions.

      This is some PR marksmanship, if you can convince people that the impact of maintaining and using a fleet of 7 (8 with the fighter) private jets for 3 company execs [techcrunch.com] (including a 767 jumbojet for crying! this is oil baron style gluttony) is 'mitigated' by paying a little extra carbon offset.

      • by gl4ss (559668)

        they might just as well be upfront about it and say it's for fun.

        anyhow, even red bull has a jet like that. and couple of others.
        actually, if you go to salzburg, go to that red bull museum there. it's worth it(it's free), actually they have couple of choppers too(a cobra!), f1's, racing bikes.. and the whole thing looks like a bond villains boardroom. and I couldn't spot any "buuhuu we buy carbon offsets" signs.

        http://www.hangar-7.com/en/the-flying-bulls/aircraft/ [hangar-7.com] let's face it, compared to that the google

      • The article says an even greater amount of carbon offsets, not a "little extra".
      • I like the idea of renaming the hangar to "Hangar One Percent".
  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday December 12, 2011 @05:10AM (#38341156)

    I'm more concerned that google effectively has a fighter jet.

  • These things are actually surprisingly versatile, some company in Germany built a giant climate controlled tropical resort [wikipedia.org] out of one a few years ago after the collapse of an airship startup.

  • by Lazy Jones (8403) on Monday December 12, 2011 @07:02AM (#38341444) Homepage Journal
    So that is the "trickle-down" effect mentioned here [slashdot.org] ...
  • Was trying to work out why they named there subsidary H211.

    Are they referring to the Hydrogen line [wikipedia.org], which has a wavelength of 21.1cm?

    • by k6mfw (1182893)
      N211 is the name of the hanger at the tarmac of Ames Research Center, not the same as the blimp hangers (1, 2, 3) or the Air Guard hanger on other side of the runways. Maybe they will end up buying it, NASA pretty much no longer has aircraft based at Ames. They used to back in the days, XV-15 Tilt Rotor, QSRA, U2s, AV8B, and some other experimental aircraft.
    • Was trying to work out why they named there subsidary H211.

      Just as a note, its not a subsidiary. Its an LLC directly owned by the Google founders, not a subsidiary of Google or some other company.

  • by k6mfw (1182893) on Monday December 12, 2011 @01:10PM (#38344396)

    I'm concerned about declining government research facilities i.e. NASA. Reason is private companies are profit driven, government is not. Before you all start screaming "damn socialists" you need to realize there was a time which researchers can work on developing new technology and not be concerned with PHB asking for productivity reports. Now we can argue about the goals (i.e. weapons) but looking at NASA's predecessor N.A.C.A. which they had facilities and labs (many at Ames Research Center, it was Ames Aeronautical Laboratory in the days). These facilities housed scientists, engineers, technicians to work on various things too expensive and risky for private companies, it was this work that helped US become a leader in aerospace technology (specifically why NACA was created in 1915). Again we can argue about govt research but look at it this way, if we don't do it someone else will (and they are). At Edwards AFB in the 1950s, Scott Crossfield said of the inventory of the highest flying, fastest flying aircraft, "Not even Howard Hughes has what we have!" Twenty years before, Hughes had the fastest airplane.

    Many people argue over govt waste, corporate handouts, and evils of socialism but consider the US has the best airplanes because the research and development was subsidized by the US govt. Heck, other countries do the same. Now there was a time when private companies did research without concern of quarterly profits. Bell labs (the transistor), Xerox Palo Alto (desktop computer with windows and mouse), IBM Almaden (harddrive). But these private research labs are now applied technology centers. I don't really know if Google has a dedicated lab devoted to longterm research and they may not be around long enough.

    Speaking of Hanger One, Navy made big use of it when Moffett was active. It housed many P3s which can be serviced and shielded from rain and wind. Airshows they had back then (1980s) had huge turnout of 100,000s and more (admittance was free). Companies along Ellis st got pissed with so many cars parked in their lots but flying demos were impressive and lots of displays even USGS had a display. You can tour P3s and talk with the officers. Amateur radio people provided communications support including amateur TV, I talked with one guy who was on top of Hanger One with his ATV camera, he said he was able to see the planes i.e. Blue Angels fly across right at his eye level. He said was scary climbing up as walkway inside was thin with a single cable on each side.

    From a bio of Joseph Ames which ARC was named after, and a true American who put service before self:
    from http://grin.hq.nasa.gov/ABSTRACTS/GPN-2000-001639.html [nasa.gov]
    Ames expected the NACA to encourage engineering education. He pressed universities to train more aerodynamicists, then structured NACA to give young engineers on-the-job training. Ames gave the NACA a focused vision that was research-based and decided that aerodynamics was the most important field of endeavor. Two years later he accepted the Collier Trophy on behalf of the NACA. He kept the NACA alive when Herbert Hoover tried to eliminate it and transfer its duties to industry.

    Ames accepted a nomination by Air Minister Hermann Goring to the Deutsche Akademie der Luftfartforschung. Ames then considered it an honor, many Americans did, and was surprised to learn about the massive Nazi investment in aeronautical infrastructure, then six times larger than the NACA. Ames urged the funding for a second laboratory [ at Moffett Field ] and expansion of the NACA facilities to prepare for war.

  • by Animats (122034) on Monday December 12, 2011 @01:36PM (#38344724) Homepage

    Moffett Field is becoming Google's private airport.

    Moffett Field was a former Navy facility, but the Navy moved out years ago, when they stopped patrolling the seas with P-3 Orions. NASA had a presence there because they had a big wind tunnel at Ames. Once the Navy moved out, the place was way underutilized. Parts of the base are leased out to startups, the west coast branch of CMU. The airfield itself is barely used. NASA doesn't do much there. I've been over there for NASA meetings, and the place is dead.

    So Page and Brin cut a deal with NASA in 2007 to keep their private planes [sfgate.com] (their Boeing 767 airliner, etc.) there and use the field. That was controversial at the time, but Moffett was so underutilized that nobody cared.

    Hangar One, the big dirigible hanger, has been out of use for years, and there's a "Save Hangar One" group. It's a nice structure; I've been inside it. But it needs work and the Navy doesn't want to maintain it. One of the Austin Powers movies had a scene in Hangar One, which is probably the biggest unused indoor clear space on the planet.

    So if the Google guys want to convert it to their lair, that probably won't upset many people locally.

    • by AMuse (121806)

      Just to clarify for other readers, you post makes it sound like "NASA Doesn't do much" at NASA ARC.

      I work at ARC, and it's a wonderful research facility! In just my short time here I've been involved with groups doing pioneering work in computer science and robotics [nasa.gov], supercomputing [nasa.gov], avionics [nasa.gov], aviation safety [nasa.gov], cockpit design, UAVs [nasa.gov] (for science, not war!), earth science, biology [nasa.gov], astrophysics [astrochem.org], planetary discovery, and so much more!!

      NASA Kepler [nasa.gov], which just found a "twin" earth (Google: Kepler 22-b) was begun

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