NASA Signs Lease with Google Subsidiary for Moffett Field

Hanger One at Moffett Air Field, California












By Jeff Foust | Nov. 17, 2014

WASHINGTON — NASA has signed an agreement to lease Moffett Federal Airfield, run by the agency’s Ames Research Center, to a company owned by Internet giant Google.

The 60-year lease agreement between NASA and Planetary Ventures LLC gives the company control of the 400-hectare airfield, including three hangars, two runways, a flight operations building and a golf course. The lease will provide NASA with $1.16 billion in rent payments over the lifetime of the lease, and save the agency $6.3 million per year in facility maintenance costs.

As part of the lease, Planetary Ventures will also invest more than $200 million in improvements to the airfield, including the refurbishment of Hangar One. The facility, on the National Register of Historic Places, had its exterior panels removed in 2012 as part of an environmental remediation project.

The agreement is part of an effort by NASA to transfer excess property and lower its overhead costs.

“As NASA expands its presence in space, we are making strides to reduce our footprint here on Earth,” NASA Administrator Charles Bolden said in a Nov. 10 statement announcing the lease. “Moffett Field plays an important role in the Bay Area and is poised to continue to do so through this lease arrangement.”

NASA and the U.S. General Services Administration selected Planetary Ventures in February to begin negotiations on a lease. The company is a wholly owned subsidiary of Google, headquartered in Mountain View, California, near the airfield.

Google, through Planetary Ventures, plans to use Moffett Field to support research and development activities in space exploration, aviation, robotics, and other technologies, according to the Nov. 10 statement.

{Source: Space News}

SpaceShip Two Goes Supersonic

SpaceShipTwo fires up its rocket engine for the first time in flight on Monday, Apr 29th, 2013From Cosmic Log
By Alan Boyle, Science Editor, NBC News

Virgin Galactic’s SpaceShipTwo rocket plane lit up its engine for the first time in flight on Monday, taking a giant supersonic leap toward outer space.
The crucial 16-second blast took place at about 7:50 a.m. PT (10:50 a.m. ET), high above California’s Mojave Air and Space Port. Virgin Group’s billionaire founder, Richard Branson, was on hand to watch the proceedings. Continue reading

XCOR Propulsion Milestone

XCOR PistonPumpTestFireXCOR Aerospace today announced a first in aviation and space history, the firing of a full piston pump-powered rocket engine. This breakthrough is the foundation for fully reusable spacecraft that can fly multiple times per day, every day. It is a game changing technology that has the power to fundamentally alter the way we as a society view, visit, and utilize the abundant resources around our planet and in our solar system. Continue reading

Smartphone App Turns Home Drone into Spacecraft

Playing AstroDrone. - ESA

Playing AstroDrone. – ESA

NOORDWIJK, The Netherlands, — A free ESA app released Friday turns a popular iPhone-controlled ‘home drone’ into a spacecraft. The augmented reality game lets owners of Parrot AR.Drone quadcopters attempt dockings with a simulated International Space Station while flying their drones for real – in the process helping to improve robotic rendezvous methods.

This new AstroDrone app is part of a scientific crowdsourcing project by ESA’s Advanced Concepts Team, gathering data to teach robots to navigate their environments.

“People intuitively assess their position and motion in relation to their surroundings in various ways, based on what they see before them,” explained team research fellow Guido de Croon.

“This new app lets us crowdsource examples of this process in practice, as a first step to reproducing it with artificial intelligence.

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FAA To Offer $5 Million Prize

The U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) is requesting funding in the 2012 budget to offer a $5 million prize to encourage the development of projects designed to provide low-cost space transportation.

“I’m a big proponent of the value of prizes to stimulate innovation,” George Nield, FAA associate administrator for commercial space transportation, said Feb. 28 during a speech at the Next-Generation Suborbital Research Conference at the University of Central Florida in Orlando. “I plan to work with both NASA and the Department of Defense to discuss how best to implement this program.” Nield offered no further details on the prize but told conference participants to “stay tuned.”
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KLM To Offer Suborbital Flights Using XCOR Lynx Announces Suborbital Flight Relationship with Space Experience Curaçao
Using XCOR’s Lynx Suborbital Spacecraft

November 17, 2010, Mojave, CA: Today KLM Royal Dutch Airlines announced to the Netherlands press that they were embarking upon a new relationship with Space Experience Curaçao (SXC). KLM will be supporting future suborbital flights through purchases, inclusion in their frequent flyer program, inclusion in future KLM vacation packages to Curacao, and other yet-to-be-named support. The flights will be made on the XCOR Lynx suborbital spacecraft.

Last month SXC and XCOR Aerospace jointly announced the intent of SXC to lease a production version of the Lynx suborbital spacecraft, pending United States government approvals to station the vehicle on the island of Curaçao in the Netherlands Antilles. With a planned start date in January 2014 SXC and now KLM will market and sell flights. XCOR will provide operational support for the vehicle at Space Port Curaçao.

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Xombie Gets PopSci Award Space Systems has been chosen as one of the 10 “Best of What’s New” Innovations by Popular Science magazine.

“Vertical takeoff/vertical landing (VTVL) spacecraft made an important advance in May, when a demonstration spacecraft called Xombie, built by the Mojave, California–based firm Masten Space Systems, became the first of its kind to shut down its engine mid-flight, restart, and then land. The eventual goal is for unmanned VTVL rockets to rise to space and return several times a day, carrying zero-gravity experiments with each pass. The challenge is to carefully consume fuel throughout the trip so that the rocket has enough to land—hence the importance of Xombie’s success.”

SpaceShipTwo Free Flight

Alan Boyle writes: Virgin Galactic’s SpaceShipTwo rocket plane was set loose for its first gliding flight today, about 45,000 feet above California’s Mojave Desert — and landed to a chorus of cheers minutes later. That’s one small step for gliders, but one giant leap for SpaceShipTwo and the future of suborbital space tourism.

The free-flying test was chronicled as it happened by Popular Mechanics’ Joe Bargmann from the Mojave Air and Space Port, where the spaceship’s builder, Scaled Composites, has its headquarters. Scaled has been working on the craft for years as a commercial follow-up to the history-making, prize-winning spaceflights of SpaceShipOne in 2004. The $100 million-plus development effort is being bankrolled by Virgin’s billionaire founder, Richard Branson, who was among the crowd watching today’s flight.

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